11/23/2001 12:00AM

Sales victor stands out


PORTLAND, Ore. - Lethal Grande, a runaway winner of the OTBA Sales Stakes on Nov. 10, will be the one to beat on Sunday when he takes on nine other Oregon-bred 2-year-olds in the $13,250 Bill Wineberg Stakes at Portland Meadows.

Lethal Grande, a Corlew Slew colt who races for breeder Pat Sonnen, finished an even third to maiden special weight company in his Oct. 27 debut, but returned to win the Sales Stakes by eight widening lengths in the rapid time of 59.80 seconds for five furlongs. He will need to stretch his speed a bit farther in the Wineberg, but has given no indication that he will be limited in the least by added distance. Juan Gutierrez, who has teamed with Sonnen to win three previous stakes at the young meeting, again has the mount.

Ransome Road, a speedy son of Cisco Road, figures as the main threat to the probable favorite, as he surprised a well-regarded field of 11 maiden special weight runners in his debut on Nov. 11, winning off by two lengths in 1:01 for five furlongs at 38-1.

Lethal Grande, Ransome Road and several others in the Wineberg field have good early speed, which could help to set the table for a late-runner like Maloya's Sun. A son of Meridian Gold trained by Jim Fergason, he finished fourth to Lethal Grande's third when both made their debuts on Oct. 27, then returned to record a closing second to Ransome Road on Nov. 11. Fergason feels that Maloya's Sun, a Betty McCaffrey homebred, will be greatly helped by Sunday's longer distance and he must be regarded as a distinct possibility if he gets a fast and contested pace to target.