Updated on 09/16/2011 9:34AM

Orientate gives Lukas his 17th Cup victory

Orientate rallies late to take a half-length victory in the Breeders' Cup Sprint on Saturday at Arlington Park.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - D. Wayne Lukas took an uncharacteristic backseat coming into the 2002 World Thoroughbred Championships, with starters in only one of the eight races on the card. What Lukas lacked in quantity he made up for in quality, though. Orientate gave Lukas his record 17th Breeders' Cup victory after rallying to a half-length victory over longshot Thunderello and 11 other speedballs in the

$1.14 million .

Orientate's victory in the Sprint was his fifth straight stakes win since Lukas turned him back in distance and took him off the turf after his fourth-place finish in the Shoemaker Mile on May 27. It also all but sewed up the Eclipse Award for Orientate as champion sprinter. A 4-year-old son of Mt. Livermore, he is owned by Bob and Beverly Lewis.

Orientate, who finished finished a well-beaten 12th after setting the early pace in the 2001 Breeders' Cup Classic, paid $7.40 after covering six furlongs in 1:08.89 seconds under Jerry Bailey over a wet but lightning-fast track.

As expected, the pace in the Sprint was extremely fast, with Thunderello and Carson Hollow dueling through fractions of 21.53 and 43.91 seconds for the opening half-mile. After breaking inward at the start, Orientate recovered to stalk the leaders while racing four wide. Thunderello, who drew into the race after Gygistar withdrew because of an injury, ultimately shook clear into the stretch and still appeared a strong horse as Orientate edged closer nearing the eighth pole. Orientate, though, was eventually able to wear down the 48-1 Thunderello in the final 20 yards.

Crafty C.T. finished best of all to be third, a half-length behind Thunderello. Kona Gold, who was well back early after being bumped at the start, rallied mildly to finish fourth, a half-length in front of stablemate Kalookan Queen.

Xtra Heat, a game second after setting all the pace in the 2001 Sprint, did not get to the lead this time around. She chased the leaders to the stretch before tiring and checking home a disappointing sixth.

Disturbingthepeace, Swept Overboard, Touch Tone, Bonapaw, Day Trader, Wake at Noon, and Carson Hollow rounded out the order of finish.

"Things didn't fall into place with some of the other horses in the stable this year, and we came in here with just one chance and tried to make the most of it," said Lukas, who also saddled Day Trader in the Sprint.

"Naturally, we were concerned about the pace," Lukas said, adding that he instructed jockey Jerry Bailey "to play off the break and see how the race develops, and he did a great job with him. I thought Carson Hollow and Thunderello would be up there and something had to give. I knew if Orientate was up there at the eighth pole he could finish with anybody. I think he's the fastest horse in the world today."

Lukas said if Orientate starts again this year it would probably be in Aqueduct's Cigar Mile on Nov. 30.

Despite finishing second, trainer Scott Lake was thrilled with the lightly raced Thunderello's performance in the Sprint.

"I said all along there is no faster horse than he is in the early going, and if he wanted the lead he was going to get it," said Lake. "He ran an incredible race. He doesn't have that much experience, but he gave us something to build on today."

Trainer John Salzman said Xtra Heat had no excuse.

"I decided to take her back today, and it just didn't work out," said Salzman.