03/23/2005 12:00AM

Lethal Bay in career form coming into El Primero trials

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Lethal Bay, third in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby on Feb. 25, returns in the 400-yard trials to the $152,000 El Primero Del Ano Derby for colts and geldings at Los Alamitos on Friday night.

The 10 fastest qualifiers are eligible for the April 15 finals.

Three-year-old fillies, including the streaking Louisiana Eye Opener, run in the trials to the $180,000 La Primera Del Ano Derby on Saturday night. The 10 fastest qualifiers return for the 400-yard finals April 16.

Lethal Bay had a strong 2-year-old campaign with five top-three finishes from seven starts, including six races in stakes or stakes trials. The Winter Derby was his first placing in a Grade 1 race, an indication that he could be improving.

Lethal Bay started his 3-year-old season in his Winter Derby trial when he defeated stakes-placed Slighty Icy by a half-length while All American Futurity third-place finisher Devons Signature ran third. Lethal Bay came back in the Winter Derby to finish three-quarters of a length behind One More Habit and only a nose behind runner-up Gulfstream Five, who has qualified for four Grade 1 finals since Sept. 17.

The El Primero trials will also bring out some of last year's premier Grade 1 futurity horses, including Heza Secret Diamond and Flyn Gt, who ran one-two in the Ed Burke Futurity, and Golden State Million third-place finisher Dutch Schultz.

Lethal Bay will be tested in the second of two trials when he faces Heza Secret Diamond and Dutch Schultz. Flyn Gt tops the first trial.

In the La Primera trials, Louisiana Eye Opener, the seventh-place finisher in the $1 million Golden State Million, is after her third straight victory. She comes of wins in the trials to the Los Alamitos Million and the Winter Derby. In each trial, however, she was bumped and did not record a time fast enough to qualify for the finals.

Louisiana Eye Opener has won 4 of her last 5 with her sole defeat coming in the Golden State Million.

Slightly Icy showed potential in her first 2005 start when she ran a close third, beaten by a neck, behind eventual Winter Derby winner One More Habit in the Denim N Diamonds Handicap. She then finished second in her Winter Derby trial behind Lethal Bay and finished sixth in the derby after ducking out at the start.

Dasha Freda returns after a three-month rest. She finished fifth in the Ed Burke Futurity and was third behind One More Habit and Dutch Schultz in their Los Alamitos Million trial.