Many horses making their final preparations for the upcoming Breeders Crown races can be found in Thursday's qualifying races at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, where the first of 10 "Q” races faces the starter at 10 a.m. (EDT).
The best match-up of the morning action is saved for last, as in the 10th qualifier top free-for-all millionaire pacers Warrawee Needy and Razzle Dazzle square off. Warrawee Needy, as of this writing still the fastest horse of 2013 with his 1:46.4 victory in a W.R. Haughton elimination, makes his second straight Pocono morning appearance after a super "workout” Q win in 1:52 last week, with back fractions of 1:22-:53.3-:26.3. "Needy” has not been in a pari-mutuel race since Aug. 3's U.S. Pacing Series Championship; Razzle Dazzle, earlier winner of the Levy Series Championship, has been spelled since failing to make the USPC final a week before. Warrawee Needy has post 3 for trainer Mark Ford and driver Mark MacDonald, while Razzle Dazzle will begin from barrier 6 for trainer Nifty Norman, with Joe Pavia Jr. selected for sulky duty.
Also returning to the races is North America's #3-rated harness horse, the sensational sophomore pacing filly I Luv The Nitelife, who was given a brief respite after her straight-heat world record victory in the Jugette. Trainer Chris Ryder has tapped Andrew McCarthy to guide the phenomenal filly Thursday as they line up in post 3 in the day's sixth event, over a track where "I Luv” won the Lynch Memorial in June and the Valley Forge in August.
Thursday's Pocono action is not just a pacefest, as the highly-regarded sophomore trotter Smilin Eli is in to go for his first action since 3-5 finishes in the two weeks of Canadian Trotting Derby action ending Sept. 14. He's in race 9; Pavia again got the nod for sulky action for trainer David Smith after shaking the 3-pill. Freshman Don Dorado, winner of the recent Pennsylvania Sires Stakes 2TC Championship, goes behind the starter from post five in the fourth race for trainer Robert Baggitt Jr. and driver Mike Simons. (Pocono Downs)