Where’s Sterling Finds Best Stride in Iselin

Frank Calabrese’s Where’s Sterling wore down Southern Ridge in mid-stretch and went on to record his first added-money win Aug. 20 in the $252,500 Philip H. Iselin Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) at Monmouth Park.

Paco rides Where's Sterling to win the $250,000 Iselin at Monmouth (8-20-2011)

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The 4-year-old son of Northern Afleet stalked the pace under Paco Lopez, loomed a threat to Southern Ridge at the top of the lane, and finally ran by his rival nearing the sixteenth pole en route to a one-length victory. The bay colt covered 1 1/16 miles on the fast dirt in 1:48.57 for his third win in five starts this year.

Nick Canani trains Where’s Sterling, who was bred in Kentucky by Cynthia Knight. He is out of the Benny the Dip mare Twinkler.

Ponzi Scheme and Jose Valdivia Jr. set the pace in the Iselin, taking the field of eight around in splits of :23.78, :47.75, and 1:11.51 while Southern Ridge, Chirac, Where’s Sterling, and Cactus Charlie chased him. With Carlos Marquez Jr. aboard, Southern Ridge took over coming off the turn and turned for home with the lead.

He still led narrowly at the eighth-pole, but Where’s Sterling was now a major threat to his outside and when they reached the sixteenth pole he cruised by Southern Ridge and won going away. Southern Ridge was 6 1/4 lengths clear of third-place Ponzi Scheme.

“I just tried to keep him relaxed early on,” Lopez said. “At the three-eighths pole I had him in the middle and he was able to get past (Southern Ridge) late.”

Where’s Sterling was winless in three starts as 3-year-old but broke his maiden in his 2011 debut at Gulfstream Park. Two starts later he scored an entry-level allowance race over the same track and then was given a two-month break from competition before finishing fourth in the Memorial Day Handicap at Calder in his stakes debut.

“I was expecting the early pace to be a little faster,” Canani said. “But Paco rode the horse perfectly. He always seemed like a horse that wants to go a mile and eighth, or maybe even longer.”

Where’s Sterling, now with career earnings of $224,110, was a $50,000 purchase at the 2009 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. spring sale of 2-year-olds in training. He was consigned by Mayberry Farm, agent.

Sent off as the second choice in the Iselin, the winner paid $8.20, $4.80, and $4. The exacta (3-6) returned $76.80 and the trifecta (3-6-5) was worth $157.80 for $1.
Cactus Charlie was fourth, followed by Alma d’Oro, favored Pleasant Prince, Dueling Alex, and Chirac, who won the Iselin in 2009.