For jockey Joe Sierra, beyond every ride lies a highway. If he's not at a track in West Virginia, he's at one in Pennsylvania or Maryland, going as far as a car or trainer will take him.

Sierra's heart and home remain at Laurel Race Course, but he's fighting to get inside. Yesterday, he rode his first winner at Laurel in 10 weeks, reveled in it and then packed for Charles Town.

"You've got to be winging. And you've got to be paid to travel or you lose money," said Sierra, a kinetic wonder at age 35. "I was playing racehorse rummy, and Barry Wiseman came up and offered me fifty bucks to ride one for him at Charles Town. That's my cue. We hit the highway."

The road has been good to Sierra, at least this stretch. In the last week, he has drawn checks from Philadelphia Park, Penn National and Charles Town, and drove away from Laurel with an extra $348 yesterday after getting Torture Test to the wire just ahead of North By East in a $6,500 claiming race.

The victory -- Sierra's first in nine mounts this meet -- came in a race that extended the double-triple carryover to $129,380.

Once, Sierra would have drawn great assumptions from a victory at a big track, but he says his days of misconstruction are past. "The people here think I'm a bullring rider," said Sierra, a veteran of the smaller, half-mile tracks. "They see me for my past. I feel like Jimmy Piersall. When he was in the minors, he said, 'I can play in the major leagues. Just give me a chance.' I'm looking for a turn at bat."

Sierra has been exercising horses at Bowie for Jerry Robb about four days a week, spending the other mornings at Charles Town. The work assures pay in potentially uncertain times and seems to have helped Sierra regain a foothold in Maryland.

Interestingly, his victory astride Torture Test came at the expense of Robb, who trains North By East -- a horse Sierra said he regularly gallops.

"Thank God for Jerry Robb. He's been like a father to me," Sierra said. "I showed him my appreciation."

Sierra said he has been free of cocaine and heroin for five years. The drugs nearly strangled his career. "I've been clean so long, I even respect myself," he said. "That's why I think I can make it {in Maryland}. I want to make it here bad, not so much for the money but the competition. You've got heady, strong riders here. Every race is like a great chess game."

He said he might plant himself at Charles Town next year to win as many races as he can, then turn his momentum to Maryland.

"I'm on a vengeance trip. It's a must now," he said. "I'm 35. If I don't do it soon, I'm never going to do it. I love the highway, and lately it's been great. But no road goes on forever." Eight in Row for DeMilio

Ice Society gave owner Rocco DeMilio his eighth straight victory by holding off Wood So and Probably The One in yesterday's $19,000 feature. DeMilio, whose horses are trained by the proficient Howard Wolfendale, has won with each of his starters since Special Ruler finished third in a race Nov. 3. Sir Sprite has won four of them, Ice Society and Special Ruler two. . . .

Buy The Firm heads a field of eight fillies and mares in today's $75,000 Carousel Handicap. The favored filly will carry 122 pounds, at least seven more than any of the others.