Day At The Track

World champion is off to fast start in 2015

08:37 AM 27 Mar 2015 NZDT
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Warrawee Needy Warrawee Needy Warrawee Needy
Warrawee Needy winning at Yonkers
Sean Hamrock Photo
Warrawee Needy
Photo by Mark Hall/USTA
Warrawee Needy - He was a $20,000 yearling purchase
Iron Horse Photo Inc.

Louisville, KY --- When it comes to Warrawee Needy, Mark Ford utters a sentence that anyone in this sport knows all too well in describing the stallion’s career.

“Welcome to horse racing,” said his conditioner and co-owner. “We were literally drooling we had the first crack at buying him, but there has been the bad luck, the awful draws and the fact we have never been able to get him quite right. I thought we would have a terrific older free-for-all pacer and he can go so fast so quickly, but we just don’t know if he ever will be what he once was.”

But the 6-year-old world champion son of E Dee’s Cam and the Apaches Fame mare Great Memories, appears to be regaining the form he flaunted at ages 2, 3 and 4, as he prepares to compete in a $50,000 second leg of the Levy Series at Yonkers Raceway on Saturday (March 28).

Although that black cloud might still be hovering over him when it comes to where he will leave from, Warrawee Needy enters this race fresh off a 1:52.1 triumph in the first leg of the series last week, but will have to commence his journey from the seven post. His regular pilot, Mark MacDonald, will be holding the lines in what will be the eighth race on the evening card.

Although he must contend with Foiled Again and Michael’s Power, Warrawee Needy, who is owned by Ford, his former trainer Carl Jamieson and David Shea, has earned the most money ($77,550) in the field this year and has already paced a 1:51.4h mile in 2015, as has Michael’s Power. Warrawee Needy has already nearly doubled what he earned last year ($41,540) and his record stands at an extremely acceptable 7-4-1-0. Could he quite possibly be back in the form that enabled him to pace a world record 1.46.4 mile as a 4-year-old?

“This horse has been through so much and to be honest, he has kept me awake many nights,” Ford said. “He has been so frustrating and I’ve worried about him more than any other horse I have ever had. He has always shown flashes of brilliance and is such a nice horse to be around. He even looks the part of a racehorse, but we just don’t know how long he will stay together without getting sick.”

Warrawee Needy has struggled with respiratory issues and allergies throughout his career. It has been difficult for Ford and his team to maintain his condition long enough for him to race consecutive weeks in a row. Toss in the horrible post positions the horse normally is allotted and it doesn’t make for a lucrative purchase for his connections.

“I thought we would win the Breeders Crown with him in 2013,” Ford said. “But he stepped on a wheel and broke. It’s just been like that with him ever since.

“We took him to Norm Ducharme at Cornell to look at him for throat surgery and he told us the sicknesses would not go away even if he performed the surgery. That is just something that happens with him and has to be managed. His groom takes such good care of him. She has her eye on him 24 hours and provides him with any treatment he needs, whether it be morning or night.”

So why was Ford so thrilled to get his hands on this horse? It’s pretty simple.

As a 2-year-old, Warrawee Needy earned $536,950 and sported a record of 12-9-1-1 while racing for Carl and Jody Jamieson. He was Canada’s 2-year-old pacing colt of the year.

At age 3, he was still an elite horse in his division, but finished last as the second choice behind Sweet Lou after having the eight hole in the North America Cup, then ninth in the Canadian Breeders Classic after leaving from the 10 post position and was sixth as the favorite in his Breeders Crown elimination. Warrawee Needy still managed to amass just under $300,000.

As a 4-year-old, Warrawee Needy kicked off his campaign with style against a fantastic group of older pacers. He was second in the Aquarius Series final, captured three straight Preferred contests at Woodbine and then was seventh in a TVG series leg after drawing the sixth spot on the gate. He then bounced back with a very nice second to Sweet Lou in the Meadowlands Maturity after both horses left from the nine and 10 positions.

He was sixth in the Roll With Joe after leaving eighth at the gate and finally hit the winner’s circle again at Mohawk in the Mohawk Gold Cup. Once again, Warrawee Needy took the overland route by starting his race from the ninth post position.

He then won his eliminations for both the William Haughton Memorial (in 1:46.4, equaling the fastest race mile of all-time) and the U.S. Pacing Championship while finishing fourth and sixth, respectively, in the finals.

After being scratched from the Canadian Pacing Derby elimination, he qualified three times, once for Jamieson and then for Ford before not hitting the board in his Breeders Crown elimination and the final, as well as the Hoosier Park Pacing Derby. Warrawee Needy ended his season with a third in the American-National, a second in a TVG leg and an eighth in the TVG final after once again drawing the nine hole.

“We have taken a lot of criticism for how we have raced this horse,” Ford said. “Especially for some of the spots we put him in like the TVG final last year after dropping him in against non-winners of $5,000 at Pocono, but no one really understands unless they are in that position. He would qualify great then race awful or else draw very badly.

“Until this year, he had never raced much on a half because it was always thought he couldn’t get around it, but it had never been tried. That’s when we decided to take him to Yonkers and he seemed to like it. It also helps that he seems to like to race on the front, which helps there and Mark MacDonald gets along with the horse because he can be tough to drive. He’s been a good fit for him.”

Obviously Ford has no idea what the season has in store for Warrawee Needy and although he’s realistic about the horse’s health, he still had enough faith to keep him eligible for the top stakes races.

“He’s paid into everything,” he said. “We will see how he does and if he stays healthy. When I compare him to Gallo Blue Chip, which he can be, it is so different. This horse has such an amazing turn of foot, where Gallo Blue Chip did not, he just was going along and so much better than the other horses he was racing against. Then he just decided he didn’t want to race anymore and he had enough.

“This horse is fast enough, looks the part and I really believed he might be untouchable. Those are just the highs and lows of the game though and that’s what can happen in this industry.”

by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent 

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