The big question of whether or not Casino Drive will make a run at Big Brown tomorrow in the $1-million Belmont Stakes (gr. I) was answered by Nobutaka Tada, spokesperson of owner Hidetoshi Yamamota and trainer Kazuo Fujisawa at a hastily-called press conference Friday evening.
“Right now, we are in; we haven’t scratched,” Tada said from the press box at Belmont Park. “We are expecting to run.”
It was announced earlier in the day that the colt's status was in doubt due to stone bruise in the left hind leg of the Mineshaft colt. Tada said the colt, winner of the Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) May 10 in just his second career start, has responded well to treatment. A vet has been soaking the foot in Epsom salts for 20 minute stretches with an hour of drying.
“At the moment, he’s OK,” Tada said. “He stands well. If he stays like he is right now, there is nothing to stop him. The only thing he missed was jogging on the track this morning. The vet said it was just a minor issue.”
Tada also said the vet will reexamine Casino Drive in the morning. The colt is not expected to go to the track Saturday.
“If he’s too fresh, he may go to the track in the morning,” he said. “ Usually, we don’t go to the track the morning of a race, but it is a possibility.”
Casino Drive, bred in Kentucky by Shell Bloodstock, 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 with consummate ease. 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.