Sterling, Trainer of Vigors, Dies at 69
August 04, 2011 06:48am

Larry J. Sterling, who developed and trained the sensational stretch-runner Vigors, winner of the 1978 Santa Anita Handicap, passed away July 27 at the age of 69  at his home near Hot Springs, Arkansas after a lengthy battle with cancer.

A memorial was held last Monday in Arkansas for Sterling who retired as a trainer in 2003, running his last horse at Remington Park. Since then, he and his wife, Judy, nee Gilligan, operated an 83-acre ranch on Amity Road south of Hot Springs.

Vigors, an almost white son of Grey Dawn bred and owned by W.R. Hawn, emerged as a star under Sterling’s guidance in the winter of ’78. A successful stakes horse on the grass, Vigors showed a new dimension to his ability in the San Marcos Handicap, a nine-furlong event which was switched to the main dirt track because of a soaked turf course due to heavy rainfall.

Displaying an amazing turn of foot, Vigors blew away the opposition in near track record time of  1:46 3/5. After a victory in the San Antonio, Vigors went postward the 9-10 favorite in the Santa Anita Handicap and won brilliantly under Darrel McHargue to complete a memorable three-race winning streak.

Sterling, who was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is survived by his wife, Judy, and four children, Larry Jo Jr., a successful jockey in the Midwest until his retirement, Lorry Jo, Gary Jo and Patty Jo.



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