LAUREL — /TC LAUREL -- Haymaker further distanced himself from his local rivals with a convincing victory in the $54,950 Private Terms Stakes over a muddy track at Laurel Race Course yesterday.
The colt led at every point in the 1 1/16-mile race, finishing nearly two lengths ahead of Colonel Hill and giving winning trainer Carlos Garcia a chance to get in a jab at the losers.
"Sergeant Hill, he ran good, huh?" said Garcia, giving Colonel Hill an intentional demotion in rank. "I said [Saturday] if he couldn't beat me in this race, when I'm giving him 10 pounds, when's he going to beat me? Next month?"
Garcia and Colonel Hill's owner, Victor DiVivo, have developed a rivalry with the 3-year-old colts; it stems from last year, when Garcia trained horses for DiVivo, who now retains Howard Wolfendale as his trainer.
Haymaker, who this month will be named Maryland's top 2-year-old of 1990, carried co-top weight of 122 pounds (with Fire In Ice). Colonel Hill carried 112.
The victory was the second in a row and fourth in eight starts for Haymaker. He paid $4.40 as favorite in a field of seven, reduced by two when Forry Cow How and Gala Spinaway were scratched earlier in the day.
Garcia had pronounced Haymaker "in terrific shape" going into the race. Afterward, the 54-year-old Argentina native -- fourth-leading trainer in the nation last year with 19 stakes victories -- said the colt would run next in the $175,000 Tesio Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on March 17. Barring the unlikely entry of a "name" out-of-town horse, Haymaker is the solid favorite for the 1 1/8 -mile Tesio.
Garcia, noting the colt's progression, said the Wood Memorial (April 20 at Aqueduct) would be his next start if he runs well in the Tesio. "You've got to have a fresh horse if you go to the Derby," he said.
Derby? Kentucky Derby?
"It's been in the back of my mind," he said. "The Preakness is still my main goal. I'm a Maryland-bred, you know -- adopted Maryland-bred, anyway."
Garcia has taken one other horse to the Derby -- Fobby Forbes, seventh in 1986.
The Private Terms, named for the Maryland colt who was the beaten favorite in the 1988 Derby, was just the second start on an off track for Haymaker. "I was a little concerned," said Garcia. "The only other time he ran in the mud, he stopped."
Those fears were abated, however, after jockey Marco Castaneda rated the colt through even fractions; Colonel Hill and Fire In Ice were always his closest pursuers. Haymaker finished in 1 minute, 43 4/5 seconds, two seconds off the track mark.
Behind the top two, traffic was a problem. He Is Risen, the third-place finisher, was involved in a jam into the first turn. Three Coins Up came out, pinching He Is Risen inside Dandy Danzig.
"My horse really had a rough trip," said jockey Donnie Miller, who rode He Is Risen.
NOTES: Miller flew in from San Francisco to ride. He has won three times in 12 mounts -- including a $50,000 stakes race Saturday -- since moving his tack to Golden Gate Field last Sunday. He won aboard Probably the One in the sixth race yesterday. . . . Keeping count: In his career debut, Colonel Hill beat Haymaker, but Haymaker has finished ahead of Colonel Hill in three subsequent clashes. . . . Joe Rocco rode three winners yesterday, while Castaneda and Edgar Prado rode two each. . . . Near the Limit, second in yesterday's Louisiana Derby -- simulcast as the 11th race at Laurel and Pimlico -- competes for Robert (Jack) Wheeler, the longtime Maryland trainer who is based in Louisiana this winter.