Undefeated Casino Drive, impressive winner of the Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) in only his second career start, is scheduled to return to the United States in mid-September to begin his preparation for the Breeders’ Cup Classic Oct. 25, according to a spokesman for the Japan Racing Association.
The half-brother to Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winners Rags to Riches and Jazil will prep for the Classic in the Goodwood Breeders’ Cup Stakes (gr. I) Sept. 27.
Casino Drive won his career debut by 11 1/2 lengths on Feb. 23 at Kyoto Race Course before embarking on his journey to America in an attempt to become the third consecutive Belmont winner produced by Better Than Honour. The son of Mineshaft, whose training was supervised by racing manager Nobutaka Tada, raised eyebrows when he scored an impressive 5 3/4-length victory in the Peter Pan, covering the 1 1/8 miles in a brisk 1:47 4/5, earning a 101 Beyer Speed Figure.
Casino Drive, owned by Hidetoshi Yamamoto and trained by Kazuo Fujisawa, became a familiar figure each morning walking around the backstretch for about an hour and a half with his two stablemates. The morning before the Belmont, however, Casino Drive suffered a foot bruise that would keep him out of the third leg of the Triple Crown.
Before leaving for Japan, Tada said the plan was to return for the Goodwood and Classic, and the latest report is that those plans are ready to be executed.
Because he has run in only a maiden race, Casino Drive is not permitted to compete in major races in Japan, so he has been kept on edge through his training.