Chicago Barn to Wire


Sportsman's Park Daily Notebook

Contact: David Zenner (773) 242-1121 ext. 310

Saturday, March 23, 2002


With 17 victories through Friday, March 22, leading jockey Larry Sterling Jr. is off to his best start at a Chicago meet since shifting his tack here full time in 1988. Eleven of Sterling's 17 wins have come aboard horses trained by leader Mike Reavis, and for the top trainer and jockey it's a mutuel admiration society.

"It's all Reavis," Sterling said Friday morning in the Jockeys Room. "He's the main outfit I've been riding for over the last few years. He puts his horses in the right spot and a lot of the time, I'm just a passenger."

Don't let Sterling's modesty fool you. Reavis was quick to praise his stable rider, noting his abilities both as a jockey and as a horseman.

"Larry is not only a good rider but he has the mind of a horseman as well," said Reavis. "He is a very good evaluator of talent and he works the horses the way I want. He also gives me good feedback on any physical ailment a horse may have."

That Sterling is a good horseman should come as no surprise, given his bloodlines and his experience.

"Racing is in my blood," said Sterling whose father, Larry Sr., was a top conditioner in California for many years. "My uncle (Larry Gilligan) and cousin (Duane Sterling) were both riders, and my sister Patti trained for a while, too."

After initially taking out his jockey's license at age 17, Sterling temporarily gave up the saddle and turned his attention to training.

"I was 4'11" at the time, but then I hit my growth spurt and had trouble keeping my weight down to take advantage of the 'bug' (apprentice weight allowance)," he recalled. "I had to keep reducing and I figured that the older I got, the bigger I'd get."

With the help of his father, Sterling began to train with a string of six horses and later had as many as 15 head. Despite winning at a high percentage, the saddle once again beckoned the young man.

"My growth leveled off and I never really got to be more than 120 pounds," Sterling said. "I had stayed fit galloping my own horses."

Once he returned to riding, Sterling's travels took him to Hot Springs, Chicago, Oklahoma, Omaha, Minnesota and finally back to Chicago, where he has been a consistent top 10 performer. Last year, Sterling finished second in the standings at Sportsman's Park with 33 wins.

Sterling and Reavis hooked up about three years ago at the suggestion of Juvenal Diaz, Reavis' longtime friend and stable rider.

"When 'Juvie' was back and forth between the track and his farm in Florida, he recommended that I use Larry Sterling," Reavis said. "Once Juvie decided to remain in Florida, Larry became my main man."


Illinois Derby hopeful Repent, winner of the Louisiana Derby (G2) in his last start, worked five furlongs in 1:00 breezing Saturday morning at Gulfstream Park in Florida where the horse is based.


Three jockeys, Larry Sterling Jr., Chris Emigh and Carlos Silva, each scored a riding double on Friday's card. Sterling's pair came with Esther Egg in the second race and Andeamo in the nightcap. Emigh's duo were Flatline in the fifth and right back with Carbon Comet in the sixth. Silva's double was El Master in the fourth and Super Fuzzy in the eighth.


Entering Saturday's action, only 31 contestants remain from the original field of 1736 for the $5,000 Chi Town Challenge.




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