04/13/2002 11:00PM

Orientate wins Commonwealth

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Orientate sped to an uncontested lead and had plenty in reserve to hold off favored Aldebaran in the $272,000 on Sunday at Keeneland.

With Pat Day riding for owners Bob and Beverly Lewis and trainer D. Wayne Lukas, Orientate went unchallenged down the backstretch after Dancing Missile, another expected front-runner, was checked soon after the break. Out of the turn of the seven-furlong race, Orientate held a comfortable three-length lead and was hand-ridden to the wire when prevailing by 1 1/4 lengths over Aldebaran, the 9-5 favorite.

Twilight Road finished third, another 4 1/4 lengths back in a field of seven older horses.

Orientate, a 4-year-old Mt. Livermore colt, returned $7.20 as second choice after finishing in 1:21.54 over a sloppy track. The triumph was his fifth overall and third in a stakes, following the Indiana Derby last October and the Sir Beaufort in December. He now has earned over $517,000 from 12 starts.

Before a crowd of 10,082, Orientate set fractions of 21:63 and 44.40 seconds while going unpressured in the 16th running of the Grade 2 Commonwealth. Aldebaran, sixth early under Kent Desormeaux, rallied strongly between horses but could not menace the winner.

"We both heard the other horse coming down the lane but there was plenty left in the tank," said Day.

Although Lukas and Day are easily the winningest trainer and jockey in Keeneland history, the Commonwealth victory was their first apiece.

Orientate was the third winner of the day for Lukas, and the third of four for Day. Orientate could make his next start in the Churchill Downs Handicap on the May 4 Kentucky Derby day undercard.