Former jockey Larry Sterling Jr., who retired from riding last fall in 43rd position among Arlington’s all-time leading reinsmen, returned to Chicago’s northwest suburban oval Friday to resume a training career for the second time in his life.
“I guess you could say I’m returning to my new old career,” said Sterling Saturday morning after saddling Brad Kelley’s Wolfcamp to finish second in Friday’s ninth race and driving back to La Grange, Ky., immediately after the event. “I was pleased with the way the horse ran, and the owner was pleased, too. I’ve got a bunch of babies down here at Highpoint for Brad Kelley, and I’m glad I got to get a shot at training again.”
Sterling, now 41, was born in Arcadia, California, and raised on the backstretch of Santa Anita as the son of a famous Southern California trainer. He originally began his jockey career at 16 but quit to start training horses at 18.
“Back then I won with the first horse I ever saddled at Golden Gate Fields,” Sterling said. “The horse won by 12 lengths. I continued to train horses until about 1991 or 1992 and then I went back to riding. I rode my last horse at Churchill last Nov. 27 but when my father died I made a quick switch back to training.
“I’m really glad to have this opportunity to train again,” said Sterling. “Now it’s up to me to take the ball and run with it. Hopefully, I’ll score a few touchdowns along the way.”
Did Sterling miss riding?
“Not at all,” he said. “Not having to get on the scale all the time is a lot easier on my body. I get to have dinner every night and I get to eat breakfast whenever I want. The funny thing is I’ve only put on two or three pounds since I starting eating again. I don’t know why.”
Among the highlights of Sterling’s career as a jockey were riding titles at Kentucky Downs in 2007, Sportsman’s Park in 2002 and Hawthorne in the spring of 2003. He also won the Grade II Illinois Derby aboard Russell Reineman Stable’s War Emblem in 2002. That horse went on to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness later that spring under different ownership.
BECKER GETS TRAINING DOUBLE FRIDAY; CUTS RIVELLI LEAD TO TWO
Trainer Scott Becker, runner-up in the Arlington trainer standings most of the summer, posted two victories on Friday’s program to trail current leading trainer Larry Rivelli by two wins entering Saturday’s 11-race program.
Becker won Friday’s third race with William Stiritz’ Dominant Sun, ridden by Junior Alvarado, and returned to the winner’s circle after the 10th to pose with Stiritz’ Deluxe Heir, ridden by Israel Ocampo.
Rivelli was winless on the program to remain the leader with 36 wins entering Saturday’s races while Becker now has 34 and defending trainer champion Wayne Catalano has 31.
JOCKEY J. Z. SANTANA POSTS RIDING DOUBLE FRIDAY
Jockey J. Z. Santana, currently the runner-up in Arlington’s rider standings, rode two winners Friday to trail current leading jockey James Graham by four wins entering Saturday’s 11-race program
Graham had one winner Friday, as did jockey Junior Alvarado, Arlington’s leading rider in 2009, was in third-place entering Saturday’s races.
Santana’s two wins came in the fifth with Calvin Johnston’s Milestonemissile for trainer Tony Granitz and in the ninth aboard Carson Springs Farm’s Candy Train for conditioner Christine Janks. Granitz, incidentally, also saddled the second-place runner in the fifth.
Junior Alvarado rode William Stiritz’ Dominant Sun to victory in the third for trainer Scott Becker and James Graham rode Tri Star Racing’s Serengeti Tour to win the sixth for trainer Tim Ice.
Graham had 76 wins entering Saturday’s races, while Santana had 72 and Alvarado was in the third spot with 66.
APPRENTICE JOSH MOLITOR RIDES TWO WINNERS FRIDAY
Apprentice jockey Josh Molitor rode two winners Friday, exactly two weeks after he posted the first riding double of his Arlington career.
Molitor took Friday’s opener aboard John Conforti’s Stardust Raj for trainer Ron Goodridge and came back to the winner’s circle after the seventh astride C. J. Equine Service Inc. and Kathlee Clifford’s Giverny Girl for conditioner Jon Cowan.