A monster from Japan is heading to America. Casino Drive, a half-brother to Rags to Riches and Jazil, is targeting the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) after destroying his opposition in a 1 1/8-mile maiden race at Kyoto Feb. 23. The son of Mineshaft will attempt to become the third straight Belmont winner produced by his dam, Better Than Honour.
According to Galop magazine, the colt’s trainer, Kazuo Fujisawa, said Casino Drive will leave for America at the end of April and will prep for the Belmont in either the Preakness (gr. I) or Peter Pan Stakes (gr.II).
In his debut at about 1 1/8 miles, Casino Drive took over the lead shortly after the start and galloped his opponents into ground without raising a sweat. After opening up a big lead turning for home, while still under a hold, he continued to increase his advantage with every stride, winning by about 12 lengths under a hand ride from Yutaka Take.
Casino Drive’s half-sister, Rags to Riches, by A.P. Indy, won the Belmont in 2007, and his half-brother, Jazil, by Seeking the Gold, captured the Test of the Champion in 2006.
The colt, bred in Kentucky by Shell Bloodstock, was consigned to the Keeneland September yearling sale by Denali Stud, agent, and purchased by Nobutaka Tada for owner Hidetoshi Yamamoto for $950,000.