(from Oak Tree stable notes)
Undefeated Casino Drive has been entered to run at Santa Anita on Oct. 12 in what his connections hope will lead to a start in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I).
Casino Drive, to be ridden by Victor Espinoza, drew post position 2 in an optional claiming allowance race at 1 1/16 miles, the eighth on a nine-race program.
The field: Dakota Phone, Rafael Bejarano; Casino Drive, Espinoza; Gregorian Bay, Martin Garcia; By Spot, Jose Valdivia Jr.; Informed, Aaron Gryder; Sensational Score, Joel Rosario; and Asperity, Danny Sorenson. Each horse is assigned 120 pounds, except Casino Drive, who has 116.
A 3-year-old son of 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft , Casino Drive breezed five furlongs Oct. 9 on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track in 1:02.
“We’re very happy with it,” said Nobutaka Tada, racing manager for Casino Drive’s owner, Hidetoshi Yamamoto. “I spoke with Mr. Yamamoto in Japan, and we decided to enter the allowance race on Sunday.”
Casino Drive, a half-brother to Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winners Rags to Riches and Jazil, has not raced since winning the Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park last May 10. A stone bruise in his left hind foot forced him to miss the Belmont Stakes and has sidelined him since. Casino Drive subsequently was returned to Japan and arrived at Hollywood Park last month.
Casino Drive won his first start in Japan on Feb. 23 this year, scoring by 11 1/2 lengths in a nine-furlong race. In his only other career start, he won the Peter Pan by nearly six lengths.