Nezzie Berlin, a multiple stakes winner and regional champion in New England, has re-established her roots in Maryland this year and is given a good shot to win her first stakes at Laurel Race Course today.
The 5-year-old mare, owned by insurance executive Robert Roffey Jr. of Marblehead, Mass., is the 6-5 morning line favorite to win the Davona Dale Handicap over Pimlico Distaff winner Double Sixes and Ritchie Trail, who won the race last year.
A short field is expected for the $50,000-added stakes. Explosive, a recent ship-in from Sam Houston Park with a division of the Neil Howard stable, will be scratched, leaving a five-horse field. Howard's assistant, Michael Zweisler, said yesterday that he will run the daughter of Fappiano instead in an allowance race at Laurel tomorrow.
Nezzie Berlin has raced mostly on the turf, but trainer Garner Vinson thinks she is equally adept on dirt.
Track oddsmaker Clem Florio felt the mare was "so devastating" when she won a prep for the Davona Dale on the main track in her last start that he made her a short-priced choice.
During her career, Nezzie Berlin has run mostly in New England, where she was named champion 2-year-old filly and champion grass filly as a 3-year-old. She was assigned such highweights in stakes competition there last year that Vinson decided to race her instead in Maryland this year. She has won two of five starts and was recently third in the Lady Baltimore Stakes.
Omar Klinger, whose biggest win in the state this year came aboard Silver Profile in the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico, has the mount.
The Davona Dale Handicap will be the third race in the National Best Seven. Maryland-based horses are also prominent entries in two of the other stakes.
Lady Reiko, from the Pimlico barn of Leon Blusiewicz, is the 7-2 second choice in the Twin Lights Stakes at Monmouth Park. Che Sara Sara, ridden by Donnie Miller Jr. for trainer Billy Turner, is listed as a 12-1 long shot.
At Arlington International Racecourse, Robert Meyerhoff's Arkansas Derby winner, Concern, is the 8-5 favorite in the eight-horse field for the $125,000 Round Table Stakes. The lineup also includes Smilin Singin Sam and Kandaly.