05/26/2012 11:41AM

Calder: Where’s Sterling looks to rebound in Memorial Day Handicap

Tom Keyser
Where's Sterling will try to bounce back in Monday’s $75,000 Memorial Day Handicap at Calder.

MIAMI – With a little racing luck, Where’s Sterling would have surely hit the board and possibly even won the Grade 1 Donn Handicap earlier this winter at Gulfstream Park. But after a very disappointing performance seven weeks later in the Skip Away, Where’s Sterling remains a bit of a question mark as the starting highweight and heavy favorite in Monday’s $75,000 Memorial Day Handicap at Calder.

Trained by Nick Canani, Where’s Sterling improved steadily following his fourth-place finish in the 2011 Memorial Day, rebounding to win the Grade 3 Iselin at Monmouth Park and finish second in the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup before concluding his 4-year-old campaign by finishing second behind the odds-on Boys At Tosconova under allowance conditions at Gulfstream in December.

Where’s Sterling trained brilliantly going into the Donn and ran the race of his life. He finished fourth, 3 1/2 lengths behind Hymn Book, despite having to check sharply after being bounced around when trying to split horses while rallying strongly in early stretch. The effort may have taken something out of the stretch-running son of Northern Afleet. Where’s Sterling was never a factor when returning the following month as the 3-2 favorite in Gulfstream Park’s Grade 3 Skip Away.

Where’s Sterling is back under the care of trainer Luis Ramirez, who sent him out to finish second behind no less an opponent than Apriority under maiden conditions here during fall 2010.

“I don’t think he handled the track very well the day of the Skip Away,” Ramirez said. “But he’s worked well since I’ve gotten him over to Calder, and he looks like he’s coming back to his best form. Having enough pace in this race is my main concern, although the way he’s been training, I don’t think he’ll be too far back.”

Cash Rules may prove the most logical alternative for those looking to beat the favorite. Cash Rules is coming off a 1 1/2-length victory as the 2-1 choice in the Sumter overnight stakes here earlier this month. The win was the fourth in just nine starts for Cash Rules who missed 15 months between the end of his 3-year-old season and his return earlier this winter at Gulfstream.

Dream Maestro finished third after joining the leaders turning for home in the Sumter. The veteran, a distant sixth in this race a year ago, is the richest member of the Memorial Day lineup, having amassed earnings of nearly $600,000 for owners Herb and Ione Elkins despite having won just 4 of 52 career starts.

“He’s a game, old warrior who has made a pretty good living out of finishing second and third,” trainer Bill Kaplan said, referring to Dream Maestro’s 17 second- and 13 third-place finishes.

A wet track would likely favor Imperial Czar who is coming off a game three-quarter-length decision over Numb Lips in the Miami Mile Handicap decided over a sloppy strip earlier in the meet. The win was the second straight for Imperial Czar since trainer Saul Matos paired him with jockey Jesus Rios.

Sky Venture, Flatter This, Numb Lips, and Trust the Deputy complete the field for the 1 1/16-mile Memorial Day.