06/29/2012 3:21PM

Lone Star Park: Autrey puts new focus on 2-year-olds


Of the 694 career wins Cody Autrey has compiled since he began training in fall 2000, just 33 have come with 2-year-olds. But that number should grow over the next few years. Autrey, who has operated an active claiming stable throughout his young career, is now making a deliberate effort to add more 2-year-olds to the barn’s mix.

Autrey had a juvenile debut winner Thursday night at Lone Star Park with Mistakingly, a half-sister to Grade 1 winner E Z’s Gentleman. Meanwhile, The Drifter, who is one of the more promising 2-year-olds in the region, will make his first start for Autrey on July 7 at Lone Star, in the $75,000 colts and geldings division of the Texas Stallion Stakes.

“We’re going to step up on the young horses in the next year and slow down a little on the claiming,” said Autrey, who has had 3,057 career starts, with 158 of them with 2-year-olds.

The Drifter was a private purchase earlier this meet by one of Autrey’s longtime clients, Charles Fletcher. The horse has raced once, winning his debut May 6. He stalked the pace and then drew clear by 1 1/2 lengths in a maiden special weight at 4 1/2 furlongs, for a Beyer Speed Figure of 76.

“We tried to buy The Drifter three days before he ran and three days after he ran,” Autrey said. “Then everything kind of happened.”

The Drifter was owned and trained by Gilbert Ciavaglia, who fell ill in the weeks following the horse’s win and was hospitalized. Ciavaglia’s condition worsened, and Autrey said the trainer asked him to look after the horse. Then Ciavaglia decided to sell The Drifter. Autrey had worked a deal to sell The Drifter to a buyer in New York, but it fell through, and he and Fletcher made an offer to Ciavaglia, who accepted. Ciavaglia later died June 5.

“The horse reminds me so much of another horse I bought for Mr. Fletcher, Premiere Dance,” Autrey said.

Premiere Dance is the most noted 2-year-old Autrey has had, as he won five straight stakes in 2005. As for The Drifter, he has been flattered since his debut win, with Desert Ransom, the third-place finisher in the maiden race May 6, coming back to win his maiden at Evangeline Downs with one of the year’s best Beyer Figures for a 2-year-old, an 86. Desert Ransom then returned to action last weekend and took the $50,000 Minstrel at Louisiana Downs. Autrey said Cliff Berry, the meet’s leading rider, has the mount on The Drifter for the Texas Stallion Stakes.

Mistakingly, also owned by Fletcher, won her career debut by 3 3/4 lengths on Thursday. She is a daughter of Count the Time and the stakes-winning mare Tensie’s Pro, making her a half-sister to 2010 Triple Bend winner E Z’s Gentleman.

“We bought her as a yearling at the Texas sale,” Autrey said of the Fasig-Tipton auction at Lone Star. “We don’t have set plans for her right now. Well just see what happens.”

Mistakingly is a Louisiana-bred and would be eligible for the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenile Fillies at Louisiana Downs on Aug. 18. Autrey said she will be based at Remington Park following Lone Star. Autrey will have a division at that track as well as at Del Mar, where he will be bringing 2-year-old colts by Concorde’s Tune and Dixie Union for client James Driver.

Special holiday schedules

Lone Star Park will have a special schedule next week, racing on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 3-4, and on Friday night through Sunday, July 8. There will be no live program Thursday, July 5. The track has set a post time of 5 p.m. Central for July 3-4, with a Pat Green concert to follow the races on Tuesday and a major fireworks program after the card Wednesday.

Louisiana Downs will race five straight days next week, beginning with a special Wednesday card on July 4. The track will race through Sunday, July 8. Louisiana Downs also will have a fireworks program next week, on a dark day, Tuesday, July 3, director of operations Trent McIntosh said. It will begin at 9:30 p.m.

◗ Laughing Fitz, a half-sister to reigning Texas-bred of the year Skip a Smile, will make her first start against Texas-breds in the sixth race Sunday at Lone Star. She is one of seven fillies and mares in the first-level allowance at seven furlongs. Luis Quinonez has the mount for trainer Steve Asmussen. Skip a Smile, who last raced in January, is up to breezing five furlongs at Lone Star. Skip a Smile and Laughing Fitz both race for their breeder, Rose Mary Chandler.