05/08/2008 11:00PM

Lethal Heat fresh, but in tough


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Lethal Heat jammed a lot of racing into one month - winning her debut March 1, an allowance three weeks later, and a Grade 3 stakes on March 30.

"She had three races in 30 days, and now she's had five weeks off," trainer Barry Abrams said.

Lethal Heat starts over Sunday at Hollywood Park, where she meets nine other 3-year-old fillies in the Grade 3 Railbird Stakes.

"I think she's a special horse," Abrams said, risking no argument. But the competition is tougher in the seven-furlong Railbird than it was for the 6 1/2-furlong Santa Paula, which she won.

The deep Railbird field includes Magical Victory, a rapidly improving filly making her second start since throat surgery; Sweet Hope, whose United States debut at Bay Meadows produced a lofty Beyer Figure; Lovely Isle, runner-up in a Grade 1; stakes winners Tasha's Miracle and P.S.U. Grad; and allowance winner Homemade Brew.

Lethal Heat was targeting the $200,000 Melair Stakes on April 27, but a communication blunder caused Abrams-trained Bel Air Sizzle to be entered instead of Lethal Heat. It did not matter. Bel Air Sizzle, back in three days, won the Melair on a disqualification, while Lethal Heat posted two more sharp works over the Hollywood surface.

Rafael Bejarano picks up the mount on Lethal Heat. He replaces Gerry Olguin, who has returned to Woodbine.

Magical Victory could be the main challenge for the favorite. Following an impressive maiden win Feb. 14, her throat entrapped in a workout and she underwent minor surgery. She returned with a second-place finish April 25 in an allowance run on a Friday night card. Jockey Victor Espinoza told trainer Gary Stute she was distracted by the lights.

Magical Victory, 1 for 3 lifetime, lost that six-furlong race by one-half length and benefits Sunday by the additional furlong. She is the first foal out of Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante winner Miss Houdini. Magical Victory probably will be at her best June 8 when she stretches to 1 1/16 miles for the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks.

Sweet Hope enters with the highest figure, a whopping 97 Beyer she earned April 13 at Bay Meadows. The figure was legitimate; runner-up Tiz Madison was coming off a huge maiden win, while the third-place finisher, Misty Ocean, returned to win an allowance.

Steve Sherman trains Sweet Hope, who won a synthetic-surface maiden race in England by five lengths. Sired by Lemon Drop Kid, Sweet Hope was produced by High Heeled Hope, a 2-year-old stakes winner at Hollywood and Keeneland in 1996.