08/09/2002 11:00PM

Woodbine: Portcullis by a neck

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Portcullis overcame traffic problems at the head of the stretch to defeat El Soprano by a neck in the $500,000 Breeders' Stakes, the third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown at Woodbine.

Winning rider Slade Callaghan said Portcullis ($3.80) showed tremendous grit in overcoming adversity in the 1 1/2-mile turf 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."

Portcullis rated kindly, about seven lengths off the lead on the backstretch, and loomed into contention on the far turn along with El Soprano, as Questing Knight made a four-wide bid for the lead.

El Soprano got the jump on Portcullis early in the drive, but Portullis mowed him down at the eighth pole, and then held his ground to stop the timer in 2:29.80. It was 5 1/2 lengths back to Mountain Beacon, coupled with Portcullis as an entry for Sam-Son Farm.

* Mulrainy ($33) upset favored For Rubies in the supporting feature, the Grade 3, $210,850 Duchess Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.