10/22/2002 11:00PM

BC Countdown - Sprint: Lukas hopes 10 is his lucky number


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Gulch broke from post 10 when he gave trainer D. Wayne Lukas his only Breeders' Cup Sprint victory in 1988. On Saturday, Lukas is hoping history will repeat itself when likely favorite Orientate breaks from post 10 in the $1 million NAPA Breeders' Cup Sprint.

A field of 13, which includes three fillies and mares, was drawn Wednesday for the six-furlong Sprint. This is the first time the race did not lure a full field since the 1996 edition at Woodbine.

Orientate is one of two horses Lukas will saddle in the Sprint, along with the 3-year-old Day Trader, who will break from the outside post 13.

"I'm not exactly clicking my heels over Orientate's draw, but all in all we're okay," said Lukas. "I'm happy he's outside all the natural speed. I'd rather have drawn a little closer to the rail, but better where we are than right down on the inside."

Orientate brings a four-race win streak into the Sprint, topped by his 2 1/4-length victory in Saratoga's Grade 1 Forego Handicap, in a field that included defending Sprint champion Squirtle Squirt and Mile contender Aldebaran. He is also undefeated in six lifetime starts at distances of under seven furlongs on dirt and unbeaten in four tries with jockey Jerry Bailey in the irons. Bailey rides him Saturday.

Lukas was obviously not pleased with Day Trader's draw.

"The extreme outside is not a good position for him," said Lukas. "He's a lot more one- dimensional than Orientate. But Pat [Day] will do the right thing."

Day Trader has run his best races from on or near the pace with his most notable victory a wire-to-wire, 3 1/4-length triumph in the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Sprint.

One trainer who came away from Wednesday's post position draw with a smile on his face was Norman Miller, who learned Bonapaw would break from post 8. Gerard Melancon rides Bonapaw.

"I wanted to be in the middle to outside but no further out than 8, and that's what we got," said Miller. "I'm happy with the post, Gerard is happy with the post, and Bonapaw is always happy."

Bonapaw has won his last three starts, including Belmont's Grade 1 Vosburgh on Sept. 21. He is also undefeated over the Arlington Park strip.

As Lukas noted, there will be speed aplenty in the Sprint, with Thunderello, Kalookan Queen, Disturbingthepeace, Carson Hollow, Touch Tone, and Xtra Heat in posts 1 through 6. Kona Gold and Swept Overboard, the two notable off-the-pace runners in the field, drew posts 9 and 12.

"Open the doors and let's go," said John Salzman, trainer of Xtra Heat, who finished second after breaking from the rail in the 2001 Sprint. "I'm pleased with what I've got. Last year I'd made up my mind we were going to go for the lead regardless of the post. We know the filly a little better now and I don't think she absolutely has to be on the lead to win, although you can bet she's going to be right there from the outset."