Three-year-old Minuteman Hill is finally living up to the expectations of trainer John Lare.

As a 2-year-old, Minuteman Hill won two races but earned only $1,724 for the Workaholic VIII Stables of Ocean City, Md. The Workaholics paid $160,000 for the On The Road Colt offspring. The miniscule return on their investment combined with the dim prospect that Minuteman Hill would improve on the track led them to find a buyer for the pacer.

"We put him in the Harrisburg sale last fall," said Lare, who handles five standardbreds for the Workaholics. "But he only brought $18,000. He's a $160,000 yearling, so we bid him out."

Lare, a trainer for nearly 30 years, knew there was one option left -- geld Minuteman Hill.

"It's the last straw you take," said Lare. "You hate to do it. We gelded him during the latter part of last year. Sixty percent of the time you can make a race horse out of them."

The improvement was dramatic. In his second start as a 3-year-old, Minuteman Hill won in 1:57, cutting nearly six seconds off his best time as a 2-year-old. The pacer has won four straight races, including a victory on a sloppy track at Rosecroft two weeks ago in 1:54, which, at the time, equaled a world record for a 3-year-old gelding on a five-eighths mile track. His next start is Friday in the Marylander final.

Said Lare: "His attitude has changed considerably. He wants to beat somebody now. I don't think he'd be the horse he is today if he was still a stallion. . . . He gets better with every start."