The status of Casino Drive, the 7-2 second-choice for Saturday’s Belmont Stakes (gr. I), is in doubt it was announced Friday morning. The winner of the May 10 Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) did not go to the track this morning.
“He has a small issue with his left-hind leg and we are not happy,” said Nobutaka Tada, spokesperson of owner Hidetoshi Yamamota and trainer Kazuo Fujisawa. “So we did not go to the track.”
“We have not yet scratched him from the race,” Tada said outside Barn 17. “There is nothing stopping us at this moment and we are not thinking of scratching. We think it might be a small stone bruise and we will watch it closely.
“It is very minor,” he said. “We detected it when he walked before he was going to the track. We noticed it when he was picking it up higher. We felt it and it was warmer than the other feet.”
Casino Drive is out of Better Than Honour, dam of the last two Belmont winners, Jazil and Rags to Riches.
After breaking his maiden in Japan Feb. 23, Casino Drive was pointed toward a run at the Belmont. In his lone U.S. start and just second career start, he won the Peter Pan Stakes May 10 at Belmont Park with consummate ease. Third in the nine-furlong race was Ready’s Echo, a fellow Belmont starter pegged at 30-1 on the morning line.
Casino Drive is one of two undefeated horses entered in the Belmont Stakes. The other is Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Preakness (gr. I) winner Big Brown. Big Brown is the 2-5 morning line favorite to become the 12th winner of the Triple Crown. Seattle Slew (1977) is the lone undefeated winner of the Triple Crown.
Casino Drive is from the first crop by 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft (a son of 1992 Belmont winner A.P. Indy). Bred in Kentucky by Shell Bloodstock, Casino Drive was a $950,000 yearling purchase out of the Keeneland September yearling sale.