Limehouse Right at Home at Keeneland

By Dick Downey

A quick quiz. How many of the starters in the Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes won the last time out? The answer: two, Limehouse and California shipper Preachinatthebar. In fact, LIMEHOUSE has won his last two. We pick him to run his streak to three in Saturday's Blue Grass.

After winning his first three starts by increasing margins, including his career debut at the very track where he runs Saturday, LIMEHOUSE went to Saratoga and was beaten almost 20 lengths in his two tries there. So it was a nice surprise to see him return to Keeneland, stretch out to two turns, and close for third place in the Grade II Lane's End Breeders' Futurity during the fall meet.

The son of Grand Slam took a break and then continued his return to form by recording his two best career Beyers in the Grade II Hutcheson Stakes at seven furlongs and the Grade III Tampa Bay Derby at 1 1/16 mile. In both cases, he angled out in the stretch and ran down opponents while avoiding trouble after coming from off the pace, but not awfully far off the pace.

That style, and his momentum, set him up for a Keeneland track that isn't necessarily favoring front-runners. We predict he'll run his record to six wins in nine starts and continue trainer Todd Pletcher's roll into the Kentucky Derby.

Of the three California shippers, we like PREACHINATTHEBAR most. He has good tactical speed and is an improving horse who doesn't need to run his best race of the Spring on Saturday. Trainer Bob Baffert will obviously want him to run a good one without competing with one of the other California shippers for the lead too early in the race.

BREAKAWAY, a January foal, came from far out of it to finish fourth in the Grade II Louisiana Derby. The extra distance on Saturday can only help him, and we predict he'll break the 100 Beyer mark to run third.

Our fourth choice in this tough race is MUSTANFAR. He showed grit when finishing second by a neck to Limehouse in a rail trip in the Tampa Bay Derby.

We believe Lion Heart is unable to reserve his speed and will set a hot pace, only to fade. The primary difficulty lies in the thought that no one else will challenge him early. If no one comes to him in the opening stages, and if he is somehow able to restrain himself, he looms a threat to wire the field. However, in our opinion, he cannot restrain himself sufficiently to carry his speed in this 1 1/8 mile race.

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