Casino Drive's Journey to Cup Begins
Photo: Rick Samuels
Casino Drive training prior to the June 7 Belmont Stakes (gr. I)
Casino Drive, the Japanese-trained colt whose bruised foot prevented him from trying to follow in the hoofprints of his two Belmont Stakes (gr. I)-winning siblings, has entered quarantine in Japan as the first step to returning to the United States.
     
Owner Hidetoshi Yamamoto and trainer Kazuo Fujisawa said on July 14 that their ultimate goal for the undefeated son of Mineshaft   this year remains the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), although he will first have a prep race in California. The Goodwood Stakes (gr. I) over 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita Park on September 27 is a possibility.
     
Due to quarantine regulations, there are no plans to race Casino Drive in Japan prior to shipping him to the U.S. around the beginning of September. The colt must remain in quarantine for two months prior to the trip.
    
“I just saw him yesterday and he seems very fit and well,” Yamamoto said while attending the opening session of the Japan Racing Horse Association select sale at the Northern Horse Park in Hokkaido.
     
Now stabled at a training center on Japan’s northernmost island for a bit of a vacation following his victory in the Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park on May 10, his subsequent training for the Belmont and then his trip from New York to Japan, Casino Drive will be sent to Miho Training Center near Tokyo around August 15, Fujisawa said. There he will resume serious work.
     
Yamamoto said he was devastated when the foot bruise prevented Casino Drive from racing in the Belmont. Calling the three-quarter brother to Rags to Riches and half brother to Jazilthe best horse he has owned, he said getting ready for the Breeders’ Cup will be a pleasure for everyone associated with the chestnut colt purchased for $950,000 at the 2006 Keeneland September yearling sale.
     
“Once he makes it to the Breeders’ Cup field, then I can enjoy really him,” said Yamamoto, chairman of Fields Corp., which develops and sells Pachinko gaming machines and is also involved in sports marketing.
    
Joined by Fujisawa and racing manager Nobutaka Tada as well as Irish-based bloodstock agent John McCormack, Yamamoto actively bid on horses during the JRHA yearling session. Tada signed tickets for three yearlings—colts by French Deputy and Coronado's Quest and a filly by Stravinsky—for a total of 61 million yen ($570,091).
      

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