08/12/2002 12:00AM

Portcullis won't be denied in Breeders'

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Portcullis overcame traffic problems at the head of the stretch to capture the $500,000 Breeders' Stakes, the third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, at Woodbine.

El Soprano finished a neck back in second in the 1 1/2-mile turf race, and Mountain Beacon, coupled with Portcullis in the favored Sam-Son Farm entry, was third.

Winning rider Slade Callaghan said Portcullis showed tremendous grit in overcoming adversity in the race.

"Questing Knight bolted on the apex of the turn," Callaghan said. "He shut me off, and my horse clipped heels and bobbled, and almost went down. For a horse to regain his momentum the way he did is a feat in itself."

Rum Splasher and Aspen Ridge dueled through lively fractions of 23.99 seconds, 48.95, and 1:13.36 while being stalked by Mountain Beacon. Portcullis rated kindly, about seven lengths off the lead on the backstretch, and rallied into contention on the far turn along with El Soprano and Questing Knight.

El Soprano got the jump on Portcullis early in the drive, but Portcullis mowed him down at the eighth pole. It was 5 1/2 lengths back to Mountain Beacon, and longshot Taipan ended up fourth in the 10-horse field of Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.

Mark Frostad trains Portcullis ($3.80), who earned $300,000 in his third consecutive stakes victory. He ran the distance in 2:29.80.

* Mulrainy ($33) upset favored For Rubies in winning Saturday's supporting feature, the Grade 3, $210,850 Duchess Stakes. Chantal Sutherland rode Mulrainy, who battled on the lead with For Rubies before drawing off in deep stretch to score by 2 3/4 lengths in 1:23.98 seconds. Spanish Decree finished third in the eight-horse field of 3-year-old fillies.