No Rider Named Yet for Casino Drive

No Rider Named Yet for Casino Drive
Photo: Coglianese Photos
Peter Pan winner Casino Drive
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By Karen M. Johnson

Nobutaka Tada, racing manager for owner Hidetoshi Yamamoto, said consideration has been given to Japanese, European, and American riders, but no decision will be made for “four or five days,” on who will ride Casino Drive in the June 7 Belmont Stakes (gr.I).

“We are leaving our options open,” Tada said May 20, without mentioning the names of the riders under consideration. “We should have a clear answer in four or five days. Fortunately, many good riders are interested, and we are pleased about that.”

Casino Drive won the May 10 Peter Pan Stakes (gr.II) at Belmont Park and is considered by many to be the biggest threat to Big Brown, the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr.I) and Preakness Stakes winner (gr.I), in the upcoming Belmont Stakes.

Big Brown seeks to become racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner, the first to accomplish such a feat in 30 years.

Kent Desormeaux, Big Brown’s rider, rode Casino Drive in the Peter Pan.

Tada is overseeing the training of Casino Drive, whose dam, Better Than Honour, produced the last two winners of the Belmont Stakes, Jazil and the filly Rags to Riches. Casino Drive, who is trained by Kazuo Fujisawa, is stabled in Barn 17 at Belmont Park.

Tada said he was well aware of all the hoopla surrounding Big Brown’s arrival at Belmont May 19.

“I know he is here, but I’m just doing my job, and am not concerned on how Big Brown is doing,” Tada said. “Big Brown is not my job.”

Casino Drive, a son of 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft  , won the Peter Pan by 5 ¾ lengths. It was his second career start and his first since winning a maiden race at Kyoto Race Course in Japan Feb. 23. He was ridden in his career debut by leading Japanese jockey Yutaka Take.

Tada said Casino Drive could work Memorial Day weekend, weather permitting.

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