10/26/2009 12:00AM

Lake, Autrey face off for title


Throughout the six-month meet at Delaware Park, Scott Lake and Cody Autrey have been involved in a neck-and-neck race for leading trainer, with no more than three or four wins ever separating the two horsemen.

Fittingly, Lake and Autrey will battle right down to the wire as Delaware brings down the curtain on its 2009 season Monday with a 12-race card that begins at 1:15 p.m. Eastern.

Lake comes into the last day of the meet trailing Autrey, 56-55. Lake has been Delaware's leading trainer for seven consecutive seasons, tying the track record set by Bud Delp from 1963-69.

A good closing day would enable Lake to erase Delp's name from the Delaware record book. But overtaking Autrey won't be easy. Autrey, in his first year based at Delaware, has been on a roll lately, winning with 11 of the 28 runners (39 percent) he has sent out the past month.

On Monday's program, which features 10 races for Thoroughbreds followed by two stakes for Arabians, Lake will send out runners in six races. Autrey has horses entered in just three events, but does appear to hold the upper hand when he goes head-to-head with Lake in races 4, 8, and 10.

In the fourth, a 1 1/16-mile route for $10,000 claimers, Autrey has the uncoupled entry of Proud Diligence and Our Dancer. Proud Diligence is rematched with the Lake-trained Changing Funds, a horse he easily defeated while winning a starter allowance two weeks ago. Our Dancer takes a big drop after facing high-priced optional claimers in his last four starts.

Autrey also has two horses to Lake's one in the eighth race at six furlongs. Extra Exclusive, winner of the Claiming Crown Express in 2008, plunges to the $5,000 level while making his first start since March. His uncoupled stablemate, He's a Dixie Boy, takes a double class drop.

Lake has Frisky Flyer, who has been stuck at this same bottom level while going 0 for 18 this year.

Autrey has two more class-droppers in the 10th, a six-furlong sprint for $22,500 claimers who haven't won twice in the past five months.

Tellitlikeitain't, a winner in 3 of 7 starts this year, and Sinister, who cleared his first allowance condition in May, both face significantly weaker competition than they have been meeting.

Lake will counter with Liger, a 6-year-old who is winless in seven starts this year and 1 for 19 over the past two seasons.