LAUREL -- The third and last time Haymaker met Colonel Hill, a big buildup resulted in a letdown, as Forry Cow How stormed past both to win the Star de Naskra Stakes.
Since that Jan. 1 meeting, Haymaker and Colonel Hill have won impressively, and both have trained well. They're the likely favorites in a field of nine 3-year-olds in today's $50,000-added Private Terms Stakes at Laurel Race Course.
The Private Terms is a prelude to Maryland's only significant Triple Crown prep -- the $175,000 Tesio Stakes two weeks later at Pimlico Race Course.
In his career debut, Colonel Hill beat Haymaker, who returned the favor in their next meeting. The Star de Naskra was their rubber match; Haymaker ran second and Colonel Hill fourth.
Since then, both colts have run once each. Haymaker romped in the Goss L. Stryker Stakes; Colonel Hill, getting the anti-bleeding medication Lasix for the first time, easily won the Dancing Count Stakes.
"My horse is in terrific shape," said Haymaker's trainer, Carlos Garcia. "Colonel Hill is my competition, but I'm the one to beat."
Once again, however, there are others capable of making this more than a two-horse race. Six of the nine entrants are stakes winners, and the other three -- Slew's Desire, He Is Risen and Dandy Danzig -- have shown promise in their brief careers.
"I'm giving Colonel Hill 10 pounds, so if he can't beat me today, he doesn't belong in the same field," Garcia said.
Under allowance conditions, Haymaker will carry top weight of 122 pounds, including regular rider Marco Castaneda.