01/27/2005 1:00AM

Roar Emotion has class edge in Morse


Special perks to mark the long-awaited reopening of Laurel Park, along with the meet's first stakes race, were postponed by some brutal winter weather last weekend.

Fans who show up Saturday will get the freebies that were to be offered last week, along with two stakes races for fillies and mares instead of only one.

The $75,000 Nellie Morse at one mile will be preceded by the rescheduled $50,000 What a Summer at six furlongs on a 10-race live card that begins at 12:35 p.m. Eastern.

The Nellie Morse, which goes as race 10, also serves as the first leg of the Magna 5, a $2 pick five-wager linking races from Laurel, Gulfstream, Santa Anita, and Golden Gate Fields.

Roar Emotion, a 5-year-old mare based in New York with trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, owns a distinct class advantage over her 12 rivals in the Nellie Morse.

In nine of her last 10 starts, Roar Emotion has faced graded-stakes company, including six races at the Grade 1 and Grade 2 levels. Though she often picks up a piece of the purse, Roar Emotion may have forgotten how to win. Her last victory came 11 months ago in the Sabin Handicap at Gulfstream.

Those looking for an alternative to taking Roar Emotion at a short price should consider Silmaril. As a 3-year-old last season, Silmaril won 5 of 7 starts, including three restricted stakes in Maryland. Her trainer, Chris Grove, intends to use the Nellie Morse as a prep for the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie at seven furlongs on Feb. 19.

"Roar Emotion is the one to beat, but cutting back to a mile should help us," said Grove. "She is very versatile and consistent. Our goal is the Barbara Fritchie, so we hope to cut back even more after this one."

Richetta finished three lengths behind Silmaril as the beaten favorite in the Maryland Million Oaks. She owns a 4-for-5 record at Laurel and is eligible to improve in the second start of her form cycle.

In the What a Summer, Wallop, winner of the $75,000 New Year's Eve at Mountaineer in her last start, and Sensibly Chic, who beat Wallop by a length in winning the Stefanita at Pimlico two starts ago, own the best recent form against stakes competition. Wallop is cross-entered in the Nellie Morse.

As a promotion, Laurel will offer free admission, a free racing program, and a keychain to the first 5,000 people in attendance. In addition, patrons have a chance to win prizes, including a trip for two to either the Florida Derby or Santa Anita Derby and two sets of tickets for a new Preakness Stakes seating area.