With a quick hustle to the lead from the gate, Orientate dictated the remainder of the race to win the $300,000-added Indiana Derby. The 1 1/16-mile race is the signature event for Hoosier Park, attracting a crowd of 6,337, which ranks among the facility's top ten attended events in the history of the track.Orientate drew the extreme outside post in the 11-horse lineup, which could have played as a disadvantage for the early speed horse. However, rider Robby Albarado was able to overcome the obstacle in the first few steps of the race, placing Orientate on the lead before the first turn."He (Orientate) was great coming off the outside post," said Albarado. "He's got natural speed, and he's not a rank horse, so he's easy to handle."Orientate soon had company down the backstretch. Larry Melancon placed Keats to the outside of Orientate to pressure the pace, but control was still in the hands of Albarado."It was sort of a cat and mouse game," continued Albarado. "He (Orientate) was kind of looking at Keats, kind of playing with him on the back side. I wasn't worried about it, though. He's just a great horse. Mike Maker and the crew from the Lukas Stable has done a great job in preparing this horse for this race."Orientate hugged the rail around the final turn and was able to place several lengths between himself and the field as he stretched out in the drive home. Saratoga Games maintained positioning inside for Mario Pino for second over a late rallying Trion Georgia and Calvin Borel, who moved up into third."We were ready to go," said Pino of his trip aboard Saratoga Games. "I'm not complaining because he ran a good race. He's a tactical horse. He has a little speed and a little kick. He did what he was supposed to do."With little action from the crowd, Orientate paid $32.60-$12.80-$8.60 across the board, marking the largest payoff for an Indiana Derby winner. The Mt. Livermore colt now has three wins in seven career starts for owners Bob and Beverly Lewis. Orientate, the second lowest money-earner of the field, increased his bankroll to more than $250,000 with the win. According to Maker, the next racing opportunity for Orientate may be the Ack Ack or the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs.
"A horse of this quality has plenty of options," said Maker, longtime assistant trainer for D. Wayne Lukas. "This colt got very sick and almost died, and had a lot of time off as a result. But he's come back well. One of our only concerns tonight was the post position. We thought this race might show a lot of speed and he could have gotten trapped on the outside early. But Robby did a nice job positioning him."The win aboard Orientate capped off a successful Indiana weekend for Albarado, who was victorious with Scoop the evening before in the $200,000 Indiana Breeders' Cup Oaks (G3). Albarado also guided One Bold Stroke to victory in the 1998 Indiana Derby, making him the only jockey to have a repeat winner in the event. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas became the first trainer to have two wins in the Indiana Derby as well. He conditioned Dubai Dust to a victory in the 1997 Indiana Derby.