05/05/2005 11:00PM

Limehouse triumphs in return to Churchill

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - One year after finishing a surprising fourth in the Kentucky Derby, Limehouse returned to Churchill Downs to post a 1 3/4-length victory over Skipaslew in Friday's $112,900 .

The Alysheba was one of five supporting stakes on the Kentucky Oaks Day card.

Limehouse, who had not won a race since capturing the 2004 Tampa Bay Derby 14 months earlier, raced in nice striking position behind a contested early pace set by With Distinction and Discreet Hero. After checking momentarily midway on the second turn, jockey John Velazquez angled Limehouse five wide into the stretch, and Limehouse outdueled Skipaslew before edging clear in the final sixteenth of a mile.

Skipaslew swung four wide to take a short advantage entering the stretch and resisted the winner to midstretch. He finished second, 2 1/2 lengths in front of the late-running Missme. Seek Gold, Confirmed, Attack the Books, Discreet Hero, and With Distinction completed the order of finish.

Limehouse, a son of Grand Slam owned by Cot Campell's Dogwood Stable, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.32 over a fast track and returned $4.

"I thought he ran a big race," said Limehouse's trainer, Todd Pletcher. "He broke poorly last time at Oaklawn, so I was happy to see him break well today and get in good position. He got carried a little wide at the top of the stretch, but he finished strong.

"It was nice to see him come back with one of his big races. He obviously likes this racetrack - he's 3 for 4 here now and ran a dynamite race in the Kentucky Derby - so bringing him back for the Stephen Foster makes a lot of sense."