04/02/2003 12:00AM

Lethal Grande sharp in return


PORTLAND, Ore. - There is no place like home for Lethal Grande, who made a triumphant return to Portland Meadows in Sunday's six-furlong Governor's Speed Handicap.

Lethal Grande, a 4-year-old son of Corslew, earned champion Oregon-bred juvenile status with a pair of stakes wins here in 2001, but he had since raced exclusively in California. Though he won two races at Bay Meadows, his recent form had begun to tail off, and, after claiming him for $25,000 in January, new owner Mike Pollowitz sent him here in hopes that a return home would serve as a tonic.

Neither Pollowitz nor trainer G.D. Khalsa, who had been the gelding's assistant trainer when he was 2, could have foreseen just how rejuvenated Lethal Grande would be.

Under jockey Danny Boag, Lethal Grande took a short lead through a quick half-mile in 45.09 seconds, then drew off steadily through the stretch to win by 6 1U4 lengths over Fit to Bet. Lethal Grande completed the distance in 1:09, breaking Knight Cover's 6-year-old track record of 1:09.20.

"I knew he was coming up to a good race, but I really didn't expect anything like this," Khalsa said. "It was good to see him draw away through the stretch, because that was the way he did it when he was 2. He seems to be going in the right direction again."

Khalsa said Lethal Grande's performance Sunday confirmed his plans to run Lethal Grande in the $35,000 Portland Meadows Mile April 27.

"That was our idea from the start," he said. "Now we just feel a little better about it."

Super Duper Awesome in upset

Super Duper Awesome, who is no stranger to upsets, pulled off one of the biggest of the meet in the 440-yard PM Quarter Horse Championship Sunday, defeating the mighty In Search of Fame and four others at odds of better than 10-1.

Super Duper Awesome, a 5-year-old son of Super Bowl Dash who races for trainer Judith Williams, dead-heated for the win in the 2001 Memorial Handicap at odds of 15-1, but he spent the last 15 months racing for claiming prices.

"He has had some problems, but when he is right he can be awfully tough," Williams said. "I put him back on Lasix a couple of races back and that seemed to make a big difference. He has been really sharp lately, and he came into this race just right."

Super Duper Awesome outfinished Dot of Honor by a half-length in 22.36 seconds, with Beluga Star another neck back in third. In Search of Fame, who stumbled after breaking from the rail post as the 7-10 favorite, held fourth.

It was the first time that In Search of Fame, who was shooting for his 21st win from 23 starts at Portland Meadows, had ever finished worse than third over the track. To add insult to injury, he was disqualified to last for taking the path of California invader Diamond Cut Diamond.

Crispin suspended

Jockey Joe Crispin missed all of last week's racing after being notified by the stewards Tuesday that he was immediately and indefinitely suspended. The stewards invoked the rarely used rule allowing emergency suspensions after Crispin's mounts in the fifth race on Saturday, March 22, and in the sixth race on Sunday, March 23, drifted in through the stretch to take the paths of other horses. Their order charged Crispin with "continued careless riding and flagrant disregard for the safety of other horses and riders during racing."

"We felt that he was an accident waiting to happen, and that it would be irresponsible for us to allow him to continue riding until we could hold a hearing," explained presiding steward Bob Blair.

A hearing for Crispin was scheduled to be held Thursday, April 3, but Blair said a ruling, or a series of rulings, would not be released until the weekend. In addition to the two incidents cited above, Crispin will be questioned about an incident following the sixth race Feb. 23, when he allegedly refused to stop for a search when requested to do so by security, and another incident during the running of the seventh race March 22, when he allegedly attempted to take the whip of another rider.

"We'll deal with these things as four separate considerations, but we're not sure if we'll issue four separate rulings," Blair said.

Regarding the alleged refusal to stop for a search, Crispin, a veteran who has often finished among the leading riders here, said he was focused on the next race and irritated by the request, but that he submitted to a search that yielded nothing illegal only moments later.