Limehouse Returns to Churchill, Wins Alysheba

Even-money favorite Limehouse, who ran fourth in last year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I), ran this year on Kentucky Oaks day, winning the $122,900 Alysheba Stakes.

Limehouse was wide as the field turned for home, but he was in perfect position alongside Skipaslew. The son of Grand Slam had to work hard to put his rival away, but gradually eased by to get his sixth win in 16 lifetime starts by 1 3/4 lengths.

Owned by Dogwood Stable, Limehouse finished a solid second to Badge of Silver in the grade II New Orleans Handicap at the Fair Grounds two starts back. In the Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) in his last start, he broke in the air and lost all chance.

With Distinction shot up from the rail to take the early lead in the 1 1/16-mile Alysheba. Discreet Hero settled into second, and Limehouse and Skipaslew settled in third and fourth.

Discreet Hero, making his first start since March 19, took the lead after the group had covered six furlongs, but Limehouse and the California invader Skipaslew then charged to the front for their stretch battle.

Missme came on to finish third and Seek Gold got fourth, making the finish a sequence of the program numbers 5-6-7-8.

Multiple graded stakes winner Limehouse is out of the Dixieland Band mare Dixieland Blues and was bred in Florida by Cheryl Curtin. He was bought as a yearling at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale for $140,000.

Limehouse won a pair of Churchill Downs stakes races, the Three Chimneys Juvenile and the Bashford Manor (gr. III) as a 2-year-old and now has three wins in four races over the track. The victory, his sixth in 16 starts, was worth $69,998 and improved his career earnings to $912,433.

"It seems like this horse loves this racetrack," winning trainer Todd Pletcher said. "He's three for four here now, ran a dynamite race in the Derby last year. It was nice to see him come back and win a big race."

Ridden by John Velazquez, Limehouse ran the distance in 1:42.32 after fractions of :23.16, :46.23, 1:11 and 1:35.93. The winner paid $4, $3, and $2.80. Skipaslew returned $5.80 and $4.40, and Missme was worth $6.

"The speed went out there, and I sent him right after the speed," Velazquez said. "I sent him out when I needed to and he responded, so it was pretty good. He had to run hard to win it."

Following Seek Gold were Confirmed, Attack the Books, Discreet Hero and With Distinction.

(Chart, Equibase)