11/03/2006 12:00AM

Victory puts shine back on Ermine


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - After finishing second in the May 5 Kentucky Oaks, the sky was the limit for Ermine. But after two resounding losses and a minor injury, she faded into racing oblivion and wasn't even the favorite for a second-level allowance condition when she returned to action last week at Churchill Downs.

Suddenly, Ermine is back in the ballgame. A seven-length triumph in the eighth race Wednesday, a $44,680 allowance, has led Ronny Werner to begin thinking big things for her again.

"We'll point to either the Mrs. Revere or the Falls City," said Werner, who trains Ermine for Oxbow Racing LLC.

After her runner-up finish behind Lemons Forever in the Oaks, Ermine "just never showed up" in the June 10 Acorn or Oct. 6 Indiana Oaks, said Werner. He downplayed what he would only call "a little mishap, a little injury" that led to a four-month separation between those two races.

"It was great to see her back to her old self Wednesday," said Werner.

After breaking sharply under Calvin Borel, Ermine led every step of the way, finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.17 over a sloppy track and earning a lifetime-high 99 Beyer Speed Figure. She returned $7.40 as second choice in a field of seven.

Werner said he will work Ermine over the Churchill turf course to determine whether she will be making her grass debut in the Grade 2, $150,000 Mrs. Revere on Nov. 18.

"It'd be good to stay with 3-year-old fillies and run in that race," said Werner. "But if I think she'd be better off staying on the dirt, we'll just have to go up against older fillies," he said, referring to the Grade 2, $300,000 Falls City on Nov. 23.

Bright One gets back on track

Ermine wasn't the only stakes-caliber 3-year-old who rebounded with a big effort here this week. Bright One, whose victory in the Aug. 6 West Virginia Derby had been tempered by a seventh-place finish in the Oct. 7 Indiana Derby, won a third-level allowance here Thursday, when he was ridden out by jockey Mark Guidry.

"It was exactly what we wanted to see," said Dale Romans, who trains Bright One for the partnership of Carolyn Bruder and Delmar Daubs. "I was ecstatic with the way he came back to form."

Bright One, the 3-10 favorite, was always on the lead and prevailed by 3 1/2 lengths, finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:44. He earned a 92 Beyer.

Romans said Bright One came out of the race in very good shape and will be pointed next to the Grade 1, $500,000 Clark Handicap on Nov. 24.

"He'll be taking on some of the best older horses around, but he's deserved this step up," said Romans.

Uncharacteristic slump for Bejarano

Jockey Rafael Bejarano entered the Friday card at Churchill in a very un-Bejarano-like kind of slump. Dating back to the final week of the Keeneland meet, Bejarano had won with just 1 of his last 53 mounts, including an 0-for-20 skid to end Keeneland and an 0-for-21 start at Churchill.

Into Friday, Bejarano's last win had come aboard Indian Fire in the second race Oct. 26 at Keeneland.

Bejarano took about a month off after fracturing a rib in an August spill at Saratoga. He also was thrown hard to the ground during the second race on Oct. 20 at Keeneland and took off several races after complaining of a sore tailbone. But Bejarano is not suffering from those injuries or anything else, said his agent, Joe Ferrer. "Physically he's fine," said Ferrer.

Overall, this has been another banner year for Bejarano, whose mounts have earned more than $10.3 million.