04/26/2002 11:00PM

Sterling wires 'em


CICERO, Ill. - For jockey Larry Sterling, business went on as usual Saturday at Sportsman's Park, where Sterling rode his fourth stakes winner in a meet less than two months old. He did it the same way he won the other three, taking Emeraldforajudge straight to the lead, making all the pace, and holding off a belated rally from Summer Delight to win the $100,000 National Jockey Club Oaks by a three-quarters of a length.

On a chilly rain-soaked afternoon, Emeraldforajudge made an easy lead when Sterling rode her hard out of the gate. She dictated tempo throughout the race, setting fractions of 23.76 seconds for a quarter mile and 48.44 for a half, and was well clear of the field turning for home.

"She was a little rank on me the first half-mile," Sterling said. "I was a little worried, but then she started to settle down and relax, and then she was fine.

I thought we had a real good shot of winning when we turned for home."

Emeraldforajudge grew visibly weary in the final half-furlong, just whenSummer Delight found her best stride, but it was too late, and Summer Delight's rally fell just short. Summer Delight finished more than six lengths ahead of Persimmon Ridge. Favored First Again was never in the race and checked in a well beaten fourth.

Emeraldforajudge, who paid $8.20 to win as the second choice, is owned by Miles Childers and L.T.B. Inc., and is trained by Bernie Flint. This was her first stakes win.