04/18/2015 5:42PM

Limehouse in it for the long haul in West Virginia


Limehouse became West Virginia’s leading sire by progeny earnings the minute he became a resident at O’Sullivan Farms in Charles Town in preparation for the 2013 breeding season.

Despite some opportunities to make his stay in the Mountain State a brief one, farm owner Randy Funkhouser said Limehouse would stick around to lead the standings with West Virginia-sired runners.

“I’ve had, off and on, some pretty large offers for the horse to move him to foreign countries and that kind of thing,” Funkhouser said. “We’ve decided not to sell him because I think he’s as good a horse as we’ve ever stood at O’Sullivan.”

The 14-year-old son of Grand Slam finished the 2014 racing season with 73 winners from 114 runners with combined progeny earnings of $2,776,643.

Limehouse previously stood at Vinery in Lexington, Ky., where he retired for the 2006 season. He was purchased by O’Sullivan Farms as Vinery made its exit from the stallion business and was quickly welcomed by West Virginia breeders.

“He’s been very popular since he’s been here,” Funkhouser said. “We bred over 60 mares to him last year and over 70 the year before that, and he’s very popular again this year.”

Limehouse’s runners were led in 2014 by Recount, winner of the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity, who is out of the Bold Badgett mare Lucky in Love. The gelding also earned a placing in the Prairie Meadows Juvenile Mile Stakes.

Other standouts for Limehouse last year included Alsono, a five-time stakes winner in New Mexico, the multiple stakes winner Risky Rachel, and the multiple Grade 2-placed Lockout.

Those horses added to the list of successful runners by Limehouse from his first six crops of racing age, including the Canadian champion Delightful Mary, the Venezuelan champion Senor Acuna, the Canadian classic winner Miami Deco, and the Grade 3 winners Humble and Hungry, Lou Brissie, and Travesura. He also is the sire of the Grade 2-placed stakes winner Uptowncharlybrown and House of Grace, who finished third in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

“These are the kind of horses that are pearls beyond price because he had already established himself to a certain degree,” Funkhouser said about the stallion. “There’s a large risk trying to make a horse from scratch. It’s a hit-or-miss thing, whereas you have a horse like this who’s already proven. He’s not a hard sell. He sells himself with his foals, his record, and his racing ability.”

Limehouse won 7 of 21 starts during his on-track career for earnings of $1,110,433. He won graded stakes in all three of his racing seasons, including the Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap and Hutcheson Stakes and the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby and Bashford Manor Stakes.

Limehouse won his first three career starts, debuting in April of his 2-year-old campaign at Keeneland. He then won the listed Three Chimneys Juvenile Stakes at Churchill Downs in early May and came back two months later to win the Bashford Manor.

Funkhouser speculated Limehouse’s ability to start fast will bode well for his first West Virginia-sired juveniles when they start to show up in the entries next year at nearby Charles Town.

“I think his size of foals will do well around the six-furlong racetrack,” Funkhouser said. “He’s the kind of horse that’s perfect here because there is an emphasis on 2-year-old and 3-year-old racing, and that’s what ultimately builds into the Breeders’ Classics here or some of the other stakes races at longer distances as they get older.”

Bred in Florida by Cheryl Curtin, Limehouse is out of the placed Dixieland Band mare Dixieland Blues and is a half-brother to Blues and Royals, a Group 2 winner in the United Arab Emirates. He is from the family of the Grade 2 winner Blue Jean Baby, as well as I Am Kamino Mago and I Am Actress, Group 2 and Group 3 winners in Japan, respectively.

Funkhouser said influences spanning three different centuries were apparent in Limehouse, down to his coloring.

The 16-hand chestnut’s features include dark brown spots intermittently placed around his body, referred to as Bend Or spots after the uniquely spotted winner of the 1880 Epsom Derby. Bend Or’s spots were one of his most enduring qualities, with Limehouse being a direct male-line descendant tracing back 13 generations.

“Much of our modern-day speed descends from Bend Or, and oftentimes, these horses that have these, it is a true genetic kickback through the Bend Or spots,” he said. “Knowing his record and everything, I think he has that.”