12/05/2013 11:48AM

Meadowlands: Trainer Mark Ford has mixed feelings on his Saturday six-pack

Lisa Photo
Ford has high hopes for pacer Warrawee Needy in 2014.

Trainer Mark Ford will be sending six horses into action on Saturday night’s Meadowlands 13-race program. The always busy conditioner, who doubles as the owner of a training center in Middletown, New York, is bringing a collection of young and old to East Rutherford and expecting mixed results.

Heading the list is the 11-year-old Silent Swing, entered in the fourth race of the evening from post six. The veteran will likely be the first pacer in history to earn in excess of $2 million lifetime and be classified in the C-1 class.

“He hasn’t been that good lately,” said Ford. “Maybe he needs a rest.”

Ford does believe that Silent Swing may be better served moving back to the mile track after campaigning on the half-mile track at Saratoga. “He was an okay fourth in his last start,” said Ford.

Still Silent Swing was competing at a much higher level at Yonkers and Pocono in the not so distant past and has won 22 times in the past two seasons under Ford’s care.

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Natives Revenge will be Ford’s youngest entrant on the card. The three-year-old recently moved into his stable after previous trainer Joe Pavia Jr. exited the north for the warmer winter in Florida and left Ford in charge.

“It will be my first start with the horse so we’ll see how it goes,” said Ford.

Natives Revenge drew post four in the fifth race, a C-1 pace exclusively for three-year-olds.

Ford sounded excited about the prospects for Dull Roar in the sixth race, a B-1/A-2 handicap also for three-year-olds.

“We purchased this horse from Jeff Gillis. He was a notch below the Ontario Sire Stakes Gold level,” said Ford.

Dull Roar finished third behind Doctor Butch on opening night of the Meadowlands meet, coming from well off the pace in an encouraging effort considering the difficult track bias that night. He’ll have a post advantage over Doctor Butch (post 9) in this contest but that may not be far enough outside for Ford.

“I’m not so sure he is in the same class as Doctor Butch,” Ford said.

Although entering six horses on the card, Ford is not a fan of the classified system employed at the Meadowlands.

“I understand they have to put races together some way, but it’s a lot of mixing and matching trying to fill the fields,” said Ford. “Sometimes it works out in your favor and sometimes it doesn’t. So I guess things even out, but I’d rather see a single condition that applies to all horses in the field,” Ford said.

Pembroke Dewey landed post five in the eighth race, another C-1 event. The four-year-old returns from Maine to make his 41st start of 2013.

“We’ll see how he comes back,” said Ford. “They’ve been racing him on half-mile tracks and that’s not his best suit. I think the big track will help him some.”

Eagle Jolt was placed at the B-2 level in race nine and Ford seemed to indicate that the level is a stretch for a horse that has essentially underperformed in 2013.  The trainer suggested that Eagle Jolt is a candidate for the January mixed sale coming up next month at The Meadowlands.

After two starts at the B-2 level, Giddy Up Blackfly earned a drop to the C-1 condition in the tenth race on Saturday, but the change didn’t appear to give Ford much reason for optimism.

The trainer was full of hope however when the subject of Warrawee Needy was broached.

“I’m looking forward to bringing him back next year,” said Ford. “I’m going to treat him the same way they took care of Pet Rock this year. We’re going to give him three months out and hope to bring him back to qualify in May.”

While some have been let down by Warrawee Needy’s late-season performances, the trainer believes the soon-to-be five-year-old had too many things going on in 2013, trying to race and breed, and perhaps that was a factor in his inconsistencies.

Ford has consistently entered horses in the George Morton Levy series but he stressed that wasn’t the direction he’s looking to with Warrawee Needy.

“We’re going to go after all of the major races. I have to say if I had my choice of one horse to race against the older horses in 2014, I couldn’t find one that I’d want more than this horse,” Ford said.