06/21/2012 1:17PM

Calder: Where's Sterling hoping for rained-off Mecke Stakes

Alyssa Diaz/Coady Photography
Where's Sterling will run in Saturday’s $55,000 Mecke Stakes if the race is moved to the main track.

MIAMI – All the rain that fell at Calder last week was good for the grass. It also may be good for the chances of Where’s Sterling getting to run in Saturday’s $55,000 Mecke Stakes.

Where’s Sterling, who dominated the Memorial Day Handicap four weeks earlier, is clearly the leader of the local handicap division. He also is only likely to start if the Mecke, which is carded at 1 1/8 miles on the turf, is switched to the main track.

“We’re undecided at the moment, but chances are pretty good he’ll only run if the race is moved to the main track,” Luis Ramirez, who trains Where’s Sterling for owner Frank Calabrese, said Thursday morning. “We entered him because of the weather forecasts this week. It looked like there was a pretty good chance the race would have to come off the grass because of rain.”

Where’s Sterling overcame some traffic issues to eventually draw away to a 7 1/2-length victory in the Memorial Day. The win was the first in three starts this season for the son of Northern Afleet who also finished a troubled fourth behind Hymn Book and Mission Impazible in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap in his 2012 debut.

“It looks like he’s just better than these horses down here,” Ramirez said. “Last time, he got in a little trouble and still won easily. He’ll carry a little extra weight [123 pounds] this time if he starts, but it shouldn’t be a problem. He just needs to get a good trip.”

Ramirez said chances are he and Calabrese will look for something “out of town” for Where’s Sterling after he runs this weekend.

Numb Lips, Imperial Czar, and Sky Venture, a distant third, fourth, and fifth, respectively, in the Memorial Day, also were entered in the Mecke.

Numb Lips had to check on the first turn and again briefly near midstretch before rallying from last to finish third in the Memorial Day. He bounced back with a very impressive five-furlong work June 15. Unlike Where’s Sterling, Numb Lips has shown some fondness for the grass, having won an entry-level allowance race over the local course one year ago.

Imperial Czar had his modest two-race win string snapped after engaging in a suicidal speed duel with Sky Venture in the Memorial Day. Imperial Czar outgamed Numb Lips to win the Miami Mile Handicap five weeks earlier.

Empire Builder is one of two 3-year-olds entered in the Mecke along with El Romano, both of whom are versatile sorts capable of winning on turf and dirt.

Empire Builder is the more accomplished of the pair. He exits a half-length victory over the odds-on Csaba in the Mambo Meister Stakes on May 26, a race that was switched from the turf to a fast main track.

Burning Time returns on grass

A strong field of 3-year-olds, headed by stakes winner Burning Time, also is scheduled to square off over the turf, weather permitting, in Saturday’s sixth race to be decided under optional claiming conditions.

Burning Time has not started since finishing eighth in the Grade 3 Sam Davis at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 4. The homebred son of Burning Roma won the Foolish Pleasure here last fall and also was second in the Appleton Juvenile Turf for trainer David Fawkes.

The improving Mr. Espresso, red-hot All Knight, Twin, and Imperador Sarava are among the other major contenders.

Summit of Speed nominations

Horsemen are reminded that nominations for all six stakes to be decided on the July 7 Summit of Speed program close Saturday. The Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap and Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap, a Win and You’re In race for this year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint, highlight a card that also includes the Grade 3 Azalea, Grade 3 Carry Back, the $100,000 Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint Handicap, and the $100,000 Hollywood Wildcat Handicap.