06/28/2007 11:00PM

Cody Autrey saddles one of his best


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Cody Autrey hasn't made much of a dent yet on the Kentucky circuit, but at age 27, just give him a little more time. Autrey has won with 5 of 42 starters at his first Churchill Downs spring meet, a decent ratio, but well short of the blazing pace the Texan has set for himself.

Autrey enjoyed a breakthrough winter at the Fair Grounds meet that ended in March, with his 42 winners being good for second in the trainer standings. Upon leaving New Orleans, Autrey redistributed his stable by sending 50 horses to Lone Star Park and 25 to Kentucky. "We wanted to come here with some of our better horses because of the purse structure," Autrey said Friday at Churchill.

Sunday, Autrey will try to make local fans take notice of one of those better horses when Ghosttrapper runs in the ninth race feature, a $55,000, third-level allowance with an $80,000 claiming option.

As a protege of Bubba Cascio, a top trainer in Texas, Autrey has gone from "having just a few head in Bubba's barn" while serving as an assistant to one of the most promising trainers in the Southwest and adjacent regions. He said the racetrack has been his life since he was "8 or 9," and after getting his first trainer's license in 2000 while still working for Cascio, he eventually went out on his own when his numbers became self-sustaining. Every year, his wins and stable earnings have outdone the previous year, and he is on par this year to easily surpass his 2006 totals of

92 wins and $1.5 million in earnings.

Ghosttrapper was claimed in late February at Fair Grounds for $50,000 and has since gone 2 for 2 for Autrey and clients Sandra and Jerry Heflin, with his latest race resulting in a 5 1/4-length romp in a $50,000 claiming race on May 28 at Churchill.

"I think we've got his mind back on running," said Autrey.

Ghosttrapper is one of seven older horses entered in the 6 1/2-furlong feature, which anchors a 10-race card. With the gaudy

97 Beyer Speed Figure he earned in his latest win, Ghosttrapper looks like a logical favorite in an overall well-matched race.

Besides Ghosttrapper, other contenders include Smalltown Slew, who has won 3 of 4 career starts at Churchill, and Chippewa Trail, who exits a tough mile race here June 17 for similar conditions.