05/11/2006 11:00PM

Autrey runners remain on fire


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Trainer Cody Autrey came into the Lone Star Park meet with a game plan and has executed it to perfection. He has won at a rate of better than 50 percent for much of the first month of the 66-date season, and through Thursday night his 22 wins in 21 days of racing this meet have placed him in a tie atop the trainer standings with perennial leader Steve Asmussen.

"We don't expect to keep up with Steve, but we're going to try as long as we can," said Autrey.

Autrey has 48 horses in training, a stable that has doubled in size since last meet through both the claim box and an influx of new owners.

"We didn't claim anything we didn't think could run here," said Autrey, a 26-year-old native of Texas. "We knew what kind of horse it takes to run here, because we've come here in previous years."

Autrey also brought a fresh, ready-to-fire barn into Lone Star after strong meets last year in Louisiana.

"We only started like 20 at Oaklawn," he said. "We kind of gave them a break to get ready for here. Ninety percent of our owners are from Dallas-Fort Worth, and they want to run here. They didn't mind skipping a month and a half over at Oaklawn, making sure they had a fresh horse to run here.

"We've had a lot of luck getting horses in the right spot, and fortunately, they won."

Autrey had started 49 horses through Thursday night and is hitting at a 45-percent win rate. He has horses for three of the meet's six winningest owners: Wimp Free Racing Stables, Sandy and Jerry Heflin, and Charles Fletcher.

The best horses in Autrey's stable include Premier Dance, who won five stakes for Autrey last year and returned to his barn on Friday after being freshened. A 3-year-old, Premier Dance will be pointed for regional sprint stakes, said Autrey.

Courtly Jazz is another stakes winner in training with Autrey, and he could make his next start in the $40,000 Connecting Terms on turf at Lone Star on May 20.

Cajole heads feature for Autrey

Cajole is a horse who could see stakes action for Autrey later this meet. He will be looking for his fourth straight win on Sunday in the featured seventh race, a one-mile money allowance that has drawn a strong cast, including Grade 3 winner Real Dandy and local stakes winners Senor Amigo and Wishingitwas.

Cajole romped by six lengths last out in an off-the-turf allowance at one mile at Lone Star on April 21. Toratora, who was third in the race, returned to win an optional claimer in his next start and is back Sunday. Cajole will break from post 4 under Cliff Berry.

"I would think he'd be two or three lengths off the lead," said Autrey.

Senor Amigo stretched out to two turns last out and won the $50,000 Premiere Stakes by four lengths on opening night at Lone Star on April 13. He covered the distance in a strong 1:37.20. Asmussen has given the mount to Glen Murphy.

"I want to keep him at two turns as good as he ran, and hopefully we can keep him around for the Assault," said Asmussen.

The $100,000 Assault Stakes, run at 1 1/16 miles for Texas-breds, will be run on July 8.

Wishingitwas moves back to dirt on Sunday after finishing third last out in the $75,000 Lure on turf at Gulfstream Park on April 1. He registered the biggest win of his career at one mile at Lone Star when he captured the $100,000 Metroplex Mile here in 2004. Trainer Bart Evans has given the mount to Casey Lambert.