10/15/2003 11:00PM

Meeting opens with Inaugural

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PORTLAND, Ore. - Portland Meadows will launch its 80-day 2003-2004 meeting on Saturday with a nine-race program that drew 89 entries, including a full field of 12 older sprinters in the featured Inaugural Handicap at six furlongs.

The $10,000 Inaugural will see the return to Oregon of Lethal Grande, who will carry high weight of 123 pounds. Lethal Grande, a 4-year-old son of Corslew who races for owner Mike Pollowitz, has won 6 of 28 races and nearly $120,000, racing mainly in California.

The Oregon-bred Lethal Grande began his career here as a 2-year-old, however, and he made a big impression in two starts here last April. Lethal Grande set a track record with six furlongs in 1:09 when he won the Governor's Speed Handicap, then came back to run a bang-up second to Poker Brad in the Portland Meadows Mile.

Lethal Grande is coming off a subpar effort against $32,000 claimers at Bay Meadows Sept. 18, but his local trainer, G. D. Khalsa, said that he has trained well for Saturday's engagement.

"He is doing well, and you can tell that he really loves this track," said Khalsa.

Lethal Grande may face a challenge from Sullivanitis. The 5-year-old Sullivanitis won twice at the recent Emerald Downs meeting, shading 1:09 for six furlongs on both occasions. He was claimed by trainer Delmer Webb for $16,000 out of his last victory, on July 19. Webb ran Sullivanitis back for twice that price on Aug. 17 and he failed to fire, but he has since posted three strong workouts here.