Eddie Davis will join an elite group of drivers when he wins his 5,000th race. Nine wins shy of the milestone attained by eight others, he should reach it within the next two weeks at Rosecroft. He is the fall meet's leading driver.

Davis, who started racing in 1964 in Delaware, brought his driving talents to Rosecroft earlier this year. "My horses weren't doing that well at the Meadowlands so I decided to try something different," he said.

Local horsemen were happy to support him. "I got a lot of loose drives from people I used to drive for at Liberty Bell and Brandywine Raceway."

Known for an unusual left-handed whipping style, Davis could have attained his lofty rank sooner if he had raced more often. But he had other priorities. "I got farm work to do," he said from his Smyrna, Del., corn and alfalfa farm.

Given his work schedule, Davis has already decided on his award once he drives home No. 5,000: "As soon as I get it, I'll take a vacation and then start for 6,000." Rosecroft Purses Cut

Billy Perkins, Rosecroft Raceway racing secretary, dropped purses at the track last week. Perkins blamed the cutback on Rosecroft's absorption of Freestate Raceway's overpayment to horsemen. Freestate's race dates were transferred to Rosecroft this year.

The lower purses affect only Rosecroft's higher-class races. The usual weekly preferred pace was not run Saturday and many of the open paces raced for less money. According to Perkins, purses for "the middle-class and lower-class horses stay the same." . . .

Die Laughing, the year's top-rated 2-year-old colt, qualified Saturday morning at Rosecroft for the Presidential Pace eliminations this Saturday. Die Laughting paced the qualifier in a fast 1:56 2/5 for driver Richie Silverman, who reportedly kept the colt under wraps for the mile.

Also on the upcoming Saturday card are eliminations for the First Lady featuring two 2-year-old fillies. Finals for both the Presdential and First Lady are set for Nov. 3.