05/03/2003 12:00AM

Three Chimneys: Limehouse wins


For Todd Pletcher, three was not a crowd. It was barely enough.

Pletcher trained three of the seven 2-year-olds in Saturday's $114,000 Three Chimneys Juvenile Stakes at Churchill Downs. Heckle was the odds-on favorite at 1-2. Korsakoff was the distant second choice at 5-1. But it was the lesser-regarded of that trio, 6-1 shot Limehouse, who saved the day for Pletcher by rallying to win the five-furlong stakes race by 1 1/4 lengths.

Heckle broke slowly, rushed up, but then faded to finish fourth. Korsakoff also was slow to start, and beat just one horse. But Limehouse showed maturity beyond his youth by rolling up the rail to prevail over the first-time starter El Sysco Kid, who nearly pulled off a 24-1 stunner. East Bay finished another 3 1/2 lengths back in third.

Limehouse, ridden by Robby Albarado, covered five furlongs on the fast main track in 57.47 seconds.

Limehouse ($15.20), like the other two Pletcher-trained runners, had won his lone start during Keeneland's meet last month.

"His first out he was a little late to switch his leads, but he was a lot more professional today," Pletcher said.

Jerry Bailey, who rode Heckle, refused to blame the slow start for his colt's defeat.

"He got back up to the leaders pretty easily," Bailey said. "He ran a huge race two weeks ago."

Limehouse and Heckle are both owned by the Dogwood Stable of Cot Campbell. His partners on Limehouse are John Bitzer, Vernon Brinson, Richard Kelso, and Paul Orrefice. Limehouse, by Grand Slam, was purchased as a yearling for $140,000.

Pletcher said all three of his colts were scheduled to leave Sunday for New York, where they will race during the Belmont Park meet that begins May 7.