03/24/2007 12:00AM

Etude much the best in Private Terms

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Etude needed four starts to finally clear the maiden ranks, but since he learned how to win the 3-year-old colt has been unstoppable.

Moving from a first-level allowance into stakes company, Etude ($6.40) cruised to his third consecutive victory in the $72,000 Private Terms at Laurel Park. He overtook Saratoga Lulaby in the upper stretch and widened his advantage while under a hand ride to the wire, finishing 5 3/4 lengths in front. He covered a mile on a fast track in 1:37.97

In his three wins, all since trainer Richard Small added blinkers and put Luis Garcia aboard the son of Include, Etude has beaten his rivals by a combined 17o1/4 lengths. .

"He was kind of green the first few times he ran, sort of awkward and not knowing what was going on," Small said. "He finally caught on. The blinkers and his catching on sort of happened at the same time. We couldn't be more pleased with him."

Saratoga Lulaby, the beaten favorite in the Horatius earlier this month, held second, 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Not for Money.