07/20/2003 12:00AM

Mulhall reaches milestone with Puerto Banus


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Puerto Banus gave trainer Kristin Mulhall her first win in a graded stakes in Sunday's $150,000 Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Puerto Banus ($25.80) rallied from seventh to win the Grade 2 Sunset Handicap by a half-length over Cagney. Continental Red, the 2-1 favorite, finished third in the field of eight.

Puerto Banus ran 1 1-2 miles on turf in 2:26.95. He reached contention on the final turn, and rallied outside of Cagney in the final furlong to lead near the finish.

The Sunset marked the first stakes win for the 4-year-old colt who was acquired in a multi-horse private transaction in May by Steve Taub, Neil Papiano and Noctis Stable. At 3, Puerto Banus finished second in the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita for The Thoroughbred Corp. and trainer Bob Baffert.

Mulhall, 20, began training last summer. Mulhall nearly had a graded stakes win earlier on Sunday when Californian finished second in the Grade 2 American Derby at Arlington Park.