10/06/2006 12:00AM

Veteran duo help open meet


PORTLAND, Ore. - Slewicide Cruise and Lethal Grande, two of the most accomplished horses to race at Portland Meadows in recent years, will help to launch the track's 60th anniversary season when they clash for the first time in Sunday's $20,000 Inaugural Handicap at six furlongs.

Slewicide Cruise, a 6-year-old from the barn of trainer Robbie Baze, will carry high weight of 126 pounds, including rider Debbie Hoonan-Trujillo, after regaining his best form late in the Emerald Downs meeting. Slewicide Cruise defeated $40,000 optional claimers with six furlongs in 1:08 on Sept. 3, then came back on Washington Cup Day, Sept. 17, to finish a creditable third behind Starbird Road and Sabertooth in the Chinook Pass Sprint at six furlongs.

Slewicide Cruise will be shooting for his second Inaugural victory, as he won the race in 2004 for his third straight win. He stretched his win streak to four the following April when he won the six-furlong Seattle Handicap at Emerald, but he injured a suspensory ligament shortly after that victory and missed nearly a year of racing.

Lethal Grande also has an Inaugural win to his credit, as he won the race in 2003. Lethal Grande, 7, returned to win the 2004 Portland Meadows Mile before moving to Hastings Park, where he has run his career mark to 19 wins from 63 starts for $337,895 in earnings. Trainer Tom Longstaff claimed Lethal Grande out of his last start, a win over $32,000 rivals on Aug. 19, with the intention of racing him here.