The heats for the 2020 MIA Breeders Plate will be held late Friday evening as part of a nine-race meeting hosted by Leeton Harness Racing Club.
There will be a pair of heats for the prestigious $30,000 feature for two-year-olds, with the 12 nominees split into pools of six to round out the night's racing at Lin Gordon Paceway.
What had been a positive boost in nominations for the heats were slashed from 18 prior to closing.
LHRC secretary Joanne Punch said there had been a rise in entries, but a paperwork discrepancy ruled out a number of runners.
"One thing they didn't do was follow up with their paperwork," Punch said. "They haven't had their stable returns in for 28 days."
As a result, Harness Racing NSW officials deemed them ineligible to race.
Punch admitted it had taken away from the initial excitement regarding numbers.
"It was good to see 18 there," she said. "I was over the moon with that.
"To see that many attempting to come; that's where it is disappointing (they weren't able to). We haven't seen a great deal of them around so to still have two heats we are going well."
Ten runners will progress to the final on January 24, meaning just one horse from each of the two heats will miss qualification for the final.
"It means you only have to beat one other horse to make the final," Punch said.
"The two-week break will give the horses that are travelling time to get over it, especially in the heat. They can also improve out of sight in two weeks."
A forecast of over 40 degrees will mean a later start time for racing on Friday.
The first race is set to start at 7.15pm with the two Breeders Plate heats the final races on the nine-strong card and will be run at 10.45pm and 11.05pm.
"We would usually be starting at 6pm, but we have put that back a little bit," Punch said.
Entry is free and the evening will include a canteen and bar, TAB and on-course totes.
The majority of the two-year-olds in the running for the Breeders Plate will be from the Riverina.
David Druitt is the only trainer with more than one entry, lining up fillies Floorless and Takidah.
He will be hoping that weight of numbers fall in his favour, given the planning he has put into preparing for the plate.
"I bought two at the sales last year and bought them specifically as they looked like they would be very good early," he said.
"Floorless is out of a good mare in terms of early speed and the other mare is too.
"They get going to the races and being an Art Major (progeny) I thought it would help even more."
Former heat winner Peter Doody returns with Star Regal, while Victorians Im Lady Madeleine and The Kew Legend clash in the second heat.
Group one winner Shes A Runa's first foal, Rocknroll Runa lines up for David Kennedy.
None of the 12 horses have raced with Kilmore staging the first and only two-year-old race of the season last week.
In an interesting twist, eight of the 12 entries are fillies. However, history could be against the ladies with the last victory for a filly in the Breeders Plate believed to be Chicitoo in 2004.
The evening's races will include the Ryan Family Memorial and will open with the heat of a state-based final.
"The Harness Breeders NSW have got their heat and the final of that is $30,000 at Menangle on January 8," Punch said. "There are 10 horses in that and some of them have travelled
The MIA Breeders Plate final night on January 24 has eight races planned and entry will again be free.
There will be children's activities and musical entertainment, while mini trotters will again feature between races.
Given the recent spate of hot weather, Lin Gordon Paceway is in excellent condition for what is the biggest period on LHRC's calendar.
"It is very green, it has kept well," Punch said.
"Over the first two nights the grass can get trampled, but it has held up well.
"We have built some new boxes out the back and we have just picked up a new tractor for track maintenance."