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Sportsman's Park Daily Notebook

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

Tuesday, April 30, 2002


On Saturday, May 4, closing day for the 2002 Sportsman's Park season, jockey Larry Sterling Jr. will be crowned the meet's leading rider, marking the reinsman's first local title since transferring his tack to Chicago full time in 1998. The Saturday coronation is a mere formality as the 32-year-old native of California vaulted to the top of the jockey standings with a three-bagger on March 16 and hasn't looked back.

Teaming up with defending champion trainer Mike Reavis, for whom he rides first call, Sterling knew he was poised to have a big meet coming in and is quick to share the credit for his success with the conditioner.

"Reavis had everything ready to run like always," Sterling said Tuesday morning. "He knows how to read a condition book. If it wasn't for Reavis, nobody would know who I am. He made everything possible by being 100 percent behind me. We're a good team. He's a very knowledgeable trainer and a good horseman.

"Getting off to a good start makes such a big difference," Sterling noted. "Everybody jumps on your bandwagon. When you get on better stock that's entered in the right spot, that's really all it comes down to."

Once the Reavis-Sterling team picked up steam, winning mounts came to the rider from all directions -- most notably the Frank "Bobby" Springer barn. Sterling earned the biggest victory of his career when Springer gave him the mount aboard eventual Illinois Derby winner War Emblem in the days leading up to the Grade II $500,000 race.

"That's one of my biggest thrills," Sterling said of winning the meet's signature race. "I was happy to be (able to get) on him. I wouldn't have wanted to trade places with (beaten favorite) Repent or any of the other horses in the race. I was glad I was on the horse I was on. I thought I had a real big shot going in. I watched him run twice in New Orleans before he came up here. He broke bad and got in behind horses. He never really had a good trip. The day he ran here with Juarez (jockey Alfredo), I knew that horse was the real deal. I hope he runs well in the Kentucky Derby. I'll be watching between races here."

The following week, Sterling guided Pretty Gale to victory in the $100,000 Lady Hallie Handicap and was aboard that horse for her adventurous trip two weeks later in the Grade III $300,000 Sixty Sails Handicap when she stumbled badly at the start and almost tossed the rider to the track.

"If she breaks right, she finishes 1-2 in there," he said. "It was real easy for the one on the lead (eventual winner With Ability) after what happened to my horse."

Sterling figures to do well at the upcoming Spring meet at Hawthorne Race Course but he wouldn't mind if this meet were to go on a little longer, "It would be nice to be here longer to keep on this roll."


Both remaining contestants in the second edition of the Chi Town Challenge hooked their cart to the same horse yesterday, the victorious Kremsie in the fourth race, to remain alive for a chance at the $5,000 top prize. If both are still alive at the conclusion of racing Saturday, they will split the prize.




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