Updated on 09/16/2011 9:00AM

Pressure off, Portcullis to get a vacation


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Portcullis met his main objective when he captured the Breeders' Stakes, the third leg of Canada's Triple Crown, at Woodbine last Saturday.

Now Portcullis, a gelding owned by Sam-Son Farm and trained by Mark Frostad, may get a well-deserved rest rather than carrying on through the fall turf stakes program here. Portcullis won his seasonal bow at Fair Grounds Jan. 19 and has run at least once in each succeeding month.

"He's already had nine starts this year," said Frostad. "And it's not that tempting to go into those big races here, because he'd be facing older competition."

Frostad's position is made somewhat easier by the fact that the Sam-Son stable can turn to the likes of Quiet Resolve, Strut the Stage, Strike Smartly, and Full of Wonder for upcoming races such as the Aug. 31 Niagara Breeders' Cup Handicap, the Sept. 8 Atto Mile, and the Sept. 29 Canadian International.

Sam-Son's five stakes wins this meeting all have come on the grass, with Quiet Resolve capturing the Connaught Cup, Strike Smartly taking the Chinese Cultural Centre, and Portcullis running his stakes streak to three following victories in the Charlie Barley and Toronto Cup.

The Breeders' score was the third for Frostad, who also sent out third-place finisher Mountain Beacon Saturday. His previous winners were Charlie's Dewan, owned by Kinghaven Farm and partners, in 1995, and Chief Bearhart, a Sam-Son stalwart, in 1996.

Sam-Son also won the Breeders' with Hangin on a Star in 1997, King's Deputy in 1988, and Dance Smartly in 1991.

First in finales

The Breeders' score was the second for jockey Slade Callaghan in a Canadian series finale, as he also rode Misty Mission to victory for Sam-Son and Frostad in the $250,000 Wonder Where, the closing leg of the triple tiara for 3-year-old fillies, here two years ago.

"We'll have to work our way backwards," said Callaghan, who will be celebrating his 32nd birthday Aug. 21.

Callaghan also won last year's $250,000 Cup and Saucer for the same connections with the filly Atlantic Fury, a first-time starter. The runner-up there was none other than the heavily favored El Soprano, who finished second in the Breeders'.

Preferred surface

Frostad has a simple explanation as to why Portcullis has never raced on the main track.

"He didn't work very fast on the dirt," said the trainer, who notes that Walls of Jericho, a 2-year-old full brother to Portcullis, has shown a similar distaste for dirt.

Walls of Jericho, with Callaghan aboard, finished second as the odds-on choice over seven furlongs on turf in maiden special weight company here Sunday. It was his second start.

Blinkers do it for Mulrainy

Mulrainy had been banging on the stakes door since last September but it wasn't until last Saturday that she could finally make her grand entrance here with a victory in the Duchess.

The breakthrough justified the confidence of the filly's trainer, Tom O'Keefe, who had anticipated just such a performance after sending Mulrainy to the post with blinkers following her third-place finish in the 1 1/16-mile Wilderness Song here July 13. Mulrainy seemed to have every opportunity to win that race.

"Going down the backstretch there, she just seemed to lose interest," said O'Keefe. "I thought she was getting lackadaisical in her races."

The new-look Mulrainy, with blinkers added, worked four furlongs from the gate in a bullet 48.80 seconds here July 28 and then drilled five furlongs in 1:00.40 under regular rider Chantal Sutherland here Aug. 5.

"That was the best she's ever worked," said O'Keefe. "She just went around there in a hold."

There was no holding Mulrainy in the Duchess as she broke running from the outside post and came out on top in a virtual match race with invader For Rubies.

"It completely surprised me when she was on the lead," said O'Keefe. "I'd told Chantal just to sit in behind the speed but she didn't have much choice. She broke nearly a length in front of the field."

The stakes was Sutherland's second in the first full week since she lost her apprentice allowance, as she also won the Seagram Cup with Lucky Molar last Wednesday. Her first Woodbine stakes win came with Biddy's Lad in the July 28 Bull Page.

Mulrainy is scheduled to make her next appearance in the $100,000 Algoma, a 1 1/16-mile race for Canadian-bred fillies and mares that is one of six yearling sales stakes run here Sept. 2.

"I really do feel a mile and a sixteenth is her best trip," said O'Keefe. "She can run at a relaxed pace, and be close to the pace."

Carroll saddles top two

Trainer Josie Carroll dominated Sunday's feature when Handpainted and Buffalo Jump finished one-two in the Ontario Debutante for 2-year-old fillies.

Handpainted, a Kentucky-bred, remained perfect in three starts and won her second stakes. She was the 3-5 favorite.

Buffalo Jump, an Ontario-bred, had come off a winning debut and was sent off at 12-1.

"I expected her to run very well," said Carroll. "She's just been training superbly."

Handpainted, owned by John and Glenn Sikura, is a possibility for the Grade 1 Spinaway, a $200,000, seven-furlong race at Saratoga Aug. 30.

"The time maybe is a little short, but we certainly want to be nominated there and have a look at it," said Carroll. "The alternative is the Mazarine, stretching her out there."

The Grade 2 Mazarine, a $250,000 race over 1 1/16 miles, will be run here Sept. 21.

"Her pedigree certainly seems to indicate she'll go long, as well as her physical makeup," said Carroll.

Buffalo Jump, meanwhile, could be heading to turf, with the Grade 3 Natalma, a $150,000 race over one mile here Sept. 7, a tempting prospect.

"She's by Benny the Dip," said Carroll. "He's certainly grass."