03/06/2003 12:00AM

Lethal Grande in strong field

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PORTLAND, Ore. - Lethal Grande makes his return to Portland Meadows on Saturday, taking on seven others in the 5 1/2-furlong allowance feature.

Lethal Grande won the OTBA Sales Stakes and the Bill Wineberg Stakes as a 2-year-old here in 2001, then shipped to California after running second to Fit to Bet in that season's Oregon Futurity. He won 2 of 13 starts and more than $60,000 last year at 3, scoring at Bay Meadows at the $65,000 optional claiming and the $25,000 claiming levels. He was claimed by current owner Mike Pollowitz for a $25,000 tag on Jan. 30 at Santa Anita, then finished sixth against $32,000 sprinters last month at Golden Gate before arriving here less than two weeks ago.

"I thought I'd have to give him some time off after the California campaign, but he looked so good I decided to keep going with him," said local trainer G. D. Khalsa. "He worked three furlongs in 37.40 last weekend, and he just skipped over the track."

Lethal Grande will need to be at his best on Saturday, as his opponents include most of the sharpest older sprinters on the grounds.

Special Sign posted the fastest six-furlong clocking to that point of the meet when he defeated $12,500 claimers in 1:10.47 on Feb. 15, and Fit to Bet eclipsed that time on Feb. 23 when he beat allowance runners in 1:10.22.

Other threats include An Naabi, who ran off four straight sprint victories before running second to Yesss in a mile allowance race last month, and Proud Louie, who won the six-furlong Inaugural Handicap here on opening weekend.

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