Updated on 09/17/2011 11:25AM

Aldebaran comes through

Aldebaran draws clear in the stretch to win the Churchill Downs Handicap by 2 1/2 lengths as the favorite. Next up: Belmont's Met Mile.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Aldebaran, the solid favorite in a field of 12 older horses, shed his bridesmaid's tag - at least for one memorable Saturday afternoon - by drawing off to an emphatic 2 1/2-length victory in the 69th running of the $233,800 .

After Twilight Road and Lord Abounding took turns on the lead in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap, Aldebaran swept past most of the field to win the seven-furlong race in 1:21.80. Pass Rush, a 10-1 shot, finished second, a neck ahead of Cappuchino, the longest shot in the field at 79-1.

Aldebaran, ridden by Jerry Bailey, returned $4.60 with his fifth victory from 20 starts. He has finished second 12 times, but trainer Bobby Frankel made note of the competition that Aldebaran has faced in recent months. "He's been beaten by Congaree and Orientate," Frankel said. "There weren't any horses like that in here."

Tony Farina, rider of Pass Rush, lodged an objection against Aldebaran for alleged interference on the turn, but the stewards quickly dismissed the claim. Bailey said he was "shocked" that a claim had been filed, saying that Aldebaran "was running too fast in the turn to bother anybody."

Aldebaran was 11th before he began passing horses on the turn. By midstretch, he was in the clear and had dead aim on a tiring Lord Abounding.

Aldebaran, a 5-year-old horse by Mr. Prospector, now has earned more than $963,000 for Flaxman Holdings Ltd. The May 26 Met Mile at Belmont Park will likely be his next start, Frankel said.

Proud Citizen, the 2002 Kentucky Derby runner-up and 6-1 third choice, pressed the pace through the far turn before fading to finish ninth. It was the colt's first start in nearly 11 months.

"It looks like we got a solid effort out of this," trainer D. Wayne Lukas said. "Next time, he'll go two turns."

The 6-4 exacta paid $39.20 and the 6-4-7 trifecta paid $1,685,80.