07/27/2011 2:09PM

Larry Sterling, former trainer, dies

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Larry Sterling, the trainer of Vigors and the father of jockey Larry Sterling Jr., died Wednesday morning in Hot Springs, Ark., following a long battle with cancer. He was 70.

“We really had a good life together,” said Judy Sterling, who was married to Larry for 48 years.

“He’s been fighting cancer for probably 11 years, but real seriously for the last two years. He fought a big fight.”

Larry Sterling, a native of Colorado Springs, Colo., trained in Southern California for 30 years. The best horse of his career came in the 1970’s. Vigors, the popular runner also known as The White Tornado, won such races as the 1978 Santa Anita Handicap. Sterling’s first win also came in Southern California, at Del Mar. Judy Sterling said her husband saddled his first horse as a trainer on Feb. 17, 1966.

“It was a wobbler and it ran third, and he made a winner out of it eventually,” she said. “He put a lot of value to the fact that he trained a lot of horses that needed a second chance. He loved to sit under a horse’s legs, loved to rehabilitate a horse. He was not a trainer. He was a horseman.”

Sterling last starter came in 2008. He settled in Hot Springs, Ark., about 18 years ago, and in this region competed at Oaklawn, Remington Park, and in Louisiana.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Monday at Caruth-Hale Funeral Home in Hot Springs. In addition to his wife, Sterling is survived by four children: Patty Sterling, a clocker in Southern California; Gary Sterling; Larry Sterling, who plans to begin training; and Lorry Sterling.