05/11/2011 3:26PM

Lone Star Park: Midwest Thoroughbreds, Autrey part company

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Lou Hodges
Trainer Cody Autrey and owner Midwest Thoroughbreds have parted company a month into the Lone Star Park meet.

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas – Trainer Cody Autrey returned to Lone Star Park for the first time in three years this meet, poised to have one of his strongest seasons ever after claiming about 30 horses for Midwest Thoroughbreds over the winter. But less than a month into the meet, the pair has parted company. Autrey is now in a rebuilding mode after losing about 40 horses owned by Midwest.

“It’s a big bite out of your stable,” said Autrey, 31. “I think a lot of the horses were sitting on wins.”

Autrey said Richard Papiese, who owns Midwest Thoroughbreds with his wife, Karen, called him in the middle of February about training a division for the stable. Autrey had about 20 horses at the time, and the new client helped him eventually expand to more than 50 head. The numbers put Autrey back in the ballpark of what he carried when his stable won the training title at Delaware Park in 2009.

“It was a big deal because in a matter of a month or two we went from 22 head to 40,” Autrey said.

But Midwest and Autrey ended up splitting after less than three months together. Maggi Moss, an attorney who assisted Richard Papiese with the transition of the horses to other tracks and trainers, addressed the split on the owner’s behalf Wednesday.

“Mr. Papiese gave Mr. Autrey, a young trainer, an opportunity,” she said, “and ultimately made a business decision to end the relationship, which in no way reflects on Texas racing.”

Autrey took the split in stride.

“It’s not the fact that we had an argument,” he said. “Maybe he just decided to change his mind. It’s not what he wanted. We never had a cross word or argument. I don’t wish him any bad luck.

“This happens everyday. It just doesn’t always happen on this big of a scale, because not that many people have that many horses. It’s a big boost when they send them to you, a big deal when they leave you. I wish him the best.”

Midwest, who was the nation’s leading owner in wins in 2010, is based in Chicago.

Autrey, who has won five races and had nine seconds from 30 starts this meet at Lone Star, now has 20 horses in training, led by stakes winners Baltimore Bob and My Star Runner. After basing at Delaware Park the past few summers, he said he plans to now race year round in the Southwest. Following the Lone Star meet, Autrey will compete at Remington Park in Oklahoma City, then return to Fair Grounds in New Orleans, where he had claimed horses for Midwest. He hopes to establish some new owners during the current meet at Lone Star.

“We’ve got a few people wanting to claim some,” Autrey said. “We haven’t been here in a while. Hopefully, people get to see us here. Hopefully, we pick up some local people. It’s rebuilding. It will happen, because it always does. All you’ve got to do is win.”

Lone Star poised to change hands

A 100 percent change in ownership of Lone Star will be considered at the Texas Racing Commission meeting Friday. In October 2009, Global Gaming won the right to purchase the operating assets of the MI Developments-owned Lone Star for $47 million in a bankruptcy auction.

Global, a subsidiary of Chickasaw Nation and the owner of Remington, was up for licensing at a Texas Racing Commission meeting in November but temporarily withdrew its application. According to Friday’s agenda, changes to the Texas entity that will own 51 percent of the track to meet state statues have been made. Ricky Knox is now the lone Texas entity listed after there had been two other Texas partners in the original application.

The documents in the agenda also call for Drew Shubeck, the current president and general manager of Lone Star, to continue to oversee the track. If the commission votes favorably for the change in ownership, the deal is expected to close within a short period of time.

Lone Star’s current meet runs to July 10.