03/22/2011 2:44PM

Gulfstream allowance ripe for powerful team

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – The potent team of trainer Nick Canani, jockey Paco Lopez, and owner Frank Calabrese combined to win three races on Sunday’s program and figure to continue their winning ways when the improving Where’s Sterling starts as the favorite against seven rivals in Thursday’s $55,600 feature at Gulfstream Park. The main event will be run under first-level allowance conditions at 1 1/8 miles over the main track.

Where’s Sterling was a maiden when the meet began but wasted little time earning a diploma after rallying to a 1 1/4-length maiden special weight victory under Lopez going a mile over a wet track on Jan. 21. He returned five weeks later to take on allowance company for the first time but proved no match for the highly regarded Christmas for Liam but was easily second-best, finishing better than five lengths clear of third-place finisher Ae Pit. A son of Northern Afleet, Where’s Sterling has consistently run Beyer Speed Figures higher than any of his competition in Thursday’s main event. The lone question mark is his ability to handle the stretch to 1 1/8 miles.

Palatine Hill finished nearly eight lengths behind Where’s Sterling when the pair met for the first time on Feb. 27 but is expected to close that gap significantly in the rematch. Palatine Hill, a lightly raced son of Roman Ruler, was hard used contesting the early pace before fading to finish fourth while making the second start of his current form cycle for trainer Eduardo Caramori but should benefit from the fact there is little other speed in this field, aside from Congar, who is coming off his worst performance since returning to south Florida during the fall.

Palatine Hill has already proven his ability to handle nine furlongs, having finished second in both previous tries at the distance while yet to have had the luxury of being able to relax on the lead in any of his previous four career starts. A switch to leading rider Javier Castellano and the prospect of perhaps an easier lead makes him the leading candidate to upset the favorite.

Keep Up was unable to keep up when Where’s Sterling earned his diploma on Jan. 21 but came back with a career best effort one month later, rallying to win his maiden by more than three lengths at a mile. An improving son of Unbridled’s Song, he figures to move forward off that performance as well as benefit from both the added distance and a post position, the rail, that is most advantageous in races here at 1 1/8 miles.

The remainder of the field, all of whom figures to be outsiders, includes Numb Lips, Decaf Again, Green Lite Special, and King Kitten.