LAUREL -- Colonel Hill owner Victor Divivo and trainer Howard Wolfendale have been pointing toward the $150,000 Maryland Juvenile Championship Dec. 8 as their ultimate 1990 goal for the unraced colt.
They didn't want Colonel Hill to make his first start in a 1 1/16-mile stakes race, so they had been looking for a good prep.
They first selected a Laurel Race Course maiden race scheduled for eight days ago, but it wasn't held because there was an insufficient number of entries. Then they decided against a race this weekend in New York.
Divivo insisted, instead, on starting him in yesterday's $75,000 Devil's Bag Stakes, a seven-furlong race at Laurel for Maryland breds.
The result was a three-length victory, with Mike Luzzi aboard, against several colts and geldings he will face again Dec. 8.
It was the first stakes victory for Divivo and Wolfendale.
"You can give him [Divivo] all the credit," said Wolfendale, who had two other winners yesterday and moved his winning percentage to .452, higher than that of any other trainer in Maryland with more than five starters.
Colonel Hill, by Temperence Hill out of the mare Pretty Driver, paid $11 as third choice in a field of nine.
That means he is a half-brother to Pretty Flame, a daughter of the stallion Mt. Livermore. Pretty Flame won her only start by 18 lengths here in March and had to be retired because of injuries.
In the first furlong yesterday, Colonel Hill stayed back in third place behind Haymaker, the second choice who had the lead.
"He sat in there behind, like he knew what he was doing," Luzzi said. "We schooled him pretty good. We simulated in the morning, behind horses with dirt in his face. That's how he did it today then we came around."
At the finish line, Colonel Hill had drawn away to win by three lengths over Haymaker. Third came Axial Rift, followed by One Tuff Oop, heavily favored Gala Spinaway, Dalmatic, Valley Crossing and Easy Paces.
Axial Rift was ridden by Rick Wilson, who rode four winners on the card and strengthened his hold on fourth place in the Laurel jockey standings.
Wilson has 36 winners. Luzzi leads with 48.
Shortly after Colonel Hill won the $45,000 first prize, William Morton of Landover was awarded $40,000 in a contest for fans.
The contest involved matching the number given him on a card when he entered the track to a number, based on the mutuel handle of the exacta pool, that was announced after the Devil's Bag Stakes. Morton had the winning number, which was 1,990.