Where’s Sterling makes presence felt in Iselin

Frank C. Calbrese’s WHERE’S STERLING (Northern Afleet) rallied to the lead in deep stretch and edged clear to a one-length victory in Saturday’s $252,500 Philip H. Iselin S. (G3) at Monmouth Park. The promising four-year-old colt notched his first stakes win in the process, completing 1 1/8 miles in 1:48 2/5 on the fast track with jockey Pasco Lopez, and the Nick Canani trainee paid $8.20 to win as the 3-1 second choice among eight rivals.

Paco & Where's Sterling charging to victory in Iselin (8-20-2011)

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Where’s Sterling was making his first start since a fourth in his stakes debut, the May 30 Memorial H. at Calder. The bay Kentucky-bred broke his maiden in January and also captured an entry-level allowance at Gulfstream Park. With Saturday’s $150,000 payday, he’s now earned $224,110 from an 8-3-3-0 line.

Ponzi Scheme (Sunday Break [Jpn]) showed speed at the start, leading by a length after an opening quarter-mile in :23 3/5, and Where’s Sterling was forwardly-placed in a tight group tracking the pace, racing within a couple of lengths of the front runner as the field made its way down the backstretch. The pace was moderate — half-mile in :47 3/5 and three-quarters in 1:11 2/5 — and Southern Ridge (Southern Image) moved forward from second to collar Ponzi Scheme leaving the far turn, but Where’s Sterling was also advancing three wide into the stretch.

Southern Ridge passed the mile mark with a half-length advantage in 1:35 4/5, but Where’s Sterling had momentum on the outside and wore down the game runner-up late. It was a 6 1/2-length margin back to Ponzi Scheme in third at the finish line. Cactus Charlie (Not for Love) came next in fourth and was followed by Alma d’Oro (Medaglia d’Oro), 9-5 favorite Pleasant Prince (Indy King), Dueling Alex (Medaglia d’Oro) and Chirac (Sligo Bay [Ire]).

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

Bred by Cynthia Knight, Where’s Sterling initially sold sold for $13,000 as a 2008 Keeneland September yearling before being purchased for $50,000 at the 2009 OBS April sale. He’s out of the Benny the Dip mare Twinkler, who is also the dam of a yearling filly by J Be K and a 2011 filly by Orientate. The 11-year-old mare is a half-sister to multiple champion steeplechaser Flat Top (Alleged) and multiple Irish Group 3 queen Asema (Theatrical [Ire]). This is the female family of multiple Grade 1 winner and successful broodmare Sabin (Lyphard).