Sterling Gold's Big Finish Takes Don Bernhardt

Sterling Gold let entry mate Korbyn Gold set a quick early pace and used his late-running style to take over in the stretch with Rodney Prescott aboard, posting a 2 1/4-length victory in Saturday's $75,000 Don Bernhardt Stakes at Ellis Park.

The 9-5 favorite Coach Jimi Lee stumbled coming out of the gate and unseated rider Craig Perret.

Sterling Gold won for the second time in his last three starts and paid $11.40, $4.40, and $3.20. Level Playingfield, ridden by John McKee, returned $4.20 and $3.20. Private Horde was three lengths behind the winner under Willie Martinez and paid $6.

Sterling Gold, a 6-year-old gelded son of Mutakddim owned by Billy Hays and trained by Joe Woodard, covered the 6 ½ furlongs on a "fast" track in 1:16.29. He earned $46,000 to lift his career total to $376,764. Sterling Gold improved his career record to 9-8-6 in 39 starts.

The victory was Woodard's first stakes win at Ellis Park. Woodard set a track record at Churchill Downs this spring with victories in 10 consecutive races.

Following Coach Jimi Lee's stumble at the gate, Korbyn Gold sprinted clear and led the field of seven through the opening quarter mile in :22.49 and the half-mile in :45.65 before giving way to the pace pressing Private Horde. Sterling Gold advanced four wide into the lane to take over and moved clear, running three-quarters of a mile in 1:09.67. Level Playingfield raced five wide throughout and closed late for second as a weakening Private Horde managed third.

Premier Performer, Korbyn Gold, and 2004 Don Bernhardt winner Fire Slam completed the order of finish.

Perret picked himself up following the spill and was bruised but otherwise unhurt.

(Chart, Equibase)