06/11/2005 12:00AM

Limehouse finds Brooklyn the proper spot

Limehouse, John Velazquez aboard, justifies his connections' decision to send him in the Brooklyn Handicap with a 1 1/2-length victory Saturday.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Todd Pletcher and Cot Campbell, head of the Dogwood Stable syndicate, debated for most of the week whether to run Limehouse in Saturday's $250,000 at Belmont Park or next Saturday's $750,000 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs.

Despite Limehouse's affinity for Churchill - he's 3 for 4, with the loss a fourth-place finish in the 2004 Kentucky Derby - the decision was made to run in the Grade 2 Brooklyn. It turned out to be the right call as Limehouse rolled to a 1 1/2-length victory over Gygistar in the 117th Brooklyn Handicap at Belmont Park.

Longshot Cuba finished third, but was disqualified by the stewards and placed fifth after cutting off Funny Cide entering the far turn. Jose Santos had to take up sharply on Funny Cide, who came on again to be fifth. He was placed fourth behind Royal Assault, who was moved from fourth to third.

Funny Cide emerged from the race with a couple of cuts on his right front ankle. Norberto Arroyo Jr. was aboard Cuba, and suffered his second disqualification of the day. Arroyo was disqualified from first place in the White Carnation Stakes after bumping twice with Madonna Lily while aboard Judy Soda. Tom Bush trains both Judy Soda and Cuba.

Limehouse, under John Velazquez, settled into second position early on while Rogue Agent, under Eibar Coa, set fractions of 23.67 seconds and 46.28. When Rogue Agent moved

to the inside, Velazquez took Limehouse to that gelding's outside.

Limehouse, a 4-year-old son of Grand Slam, took the lead at the three-eighths pole and was never seriously threatened thereafter, winning in a solid 1:46.69 for 1 1/8 miles. Limehouse returned $7.80 as the third choice.

Pletcher said the decision to run here was based on how well Limehouse was training and the fact that he felt the race set up better than the Stephen Foster. With the track favoring front-runners, Pletcher was glad to see his horse in stalking position early on. Pletcher felt that once his horse made the lead, he'd be tough to catch.

"When [Velazquez] takes a look around, that's an indication that he's got a lot of horse left," Pletcher said. "He's a fighter. I wasn't concerned; I knew when they came to him, he'd dig in."

The $150,000 first-place purse pushed Limehouse's career earnings to $1,062,433.

Barclay Tagg, trainer of Funny Cide, was very disappointed because he felt Funny Cide had "never been better in his life," he said.