06/09/2009 11:00PM

Whirlie Bertie back to where she's perfect


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Whirlie Bertie got so good last year that she was the 8-5 favorite facing the likes of Maren's Meadow and some other nice 3-year-old fillies in the Monmouth Oaks. She ran third that August afternoon, then a distant seventh in her only subsequent start of the year, the Indiana Oaks, exiting that October race with a minor injury that led to an eight-month layoff.

It's back to work Friday for Whirlie Bertie - and there could be no better place for her to return than at Churchill Downs. The filly has never lost here, having reeled off three straight victories at the 2008 spring meet, so when she makes her comeback versus five opponents in the $55,300 feature, a third-level allowance at seven furlongs, it will be with that record of local distinction on the line.

"She's had a lot of nice workouts, and I would've liked to run her around two turns, like she did most of last year, but the race didn't fill," said Steve Margolis, who trains Whirlie Bertie for the Klein family of Louisville. "It's just as well. She's ready, and we're just looking for this race to get us going on the year."

Margolis said Whirling Bertie came out of the Indiana Oaks "with a little bit of a hind-end fracture, so small that it didn't require any surgery, just a turnout and rehab. She hasn't missed a beat through that whole process, so we're excited about having her back."

Whirling Bertie, with Shaun Bridgmohan to ride, will start from post 5 in the fourth of 11 races Friday. Her main opponents appear to be Iron Butterfly and Valentine Fever, the one-two finishers in a six-furlong allowance for this same condition on May 21, and Tar Heel Mom, coming off a useful effort in the May 25 Winning Colors Stakes.

Two other allowances, both entry-level races with $50,200 purses, will be run later on a program that begins at 2:45 p.m. Eastern.

In the ninth race, Stone Legacy returns to the allowance ranks when trying older rivals at 1 1/16 miles. The D. Wayne Lukas-trained filly completed the Kentucky Oaks exacta, running second by 20 1/4 lengths to Rachel Alexandra.

The 10th race is extremely well matched, with the Margolis-trained Northern Prince standing a decent chance in a field of 11.