Casino Drive Works -- Or Does He?
Photo: Rick Samuels
Casino Drive at Belmont Park
By Steve Haskin and
Ron Mitchell

Belmont Stakes (gr. I) contender Casino Drive went to the track for a scheduled work Wednesday, May 28, but in the end it was decided by the clockers that the time was too slow to be published as an official workout.

According to Nobutaka Tada, racing manager for owner Hidetoshi Yamamoto, the plan was for the son of Mineshaft   to work in company with stablemate Spark Candle, who is also still on the Belmont possible list.

After the horses warmed up, it became apparent Casino Drive wanted to do too much and the plan was aborted, with Casino Drive going off alone. “If we had followed the other horse, we were afraid he would go too fast,” said Tada, who was on the phone with trainer Kazuo Fujisawa in Japan while the workout was in progress.

The fractional times were :17, :31 1/5, :45 4/5 and 1:12 2/5 for five-eighths, with a six-furlong gallop out time of 1:25. Despite the slowness of the effort by American standards, Tada was not disappointed.

“We had him continue past the wire to the backstretch to the one-mile pole,” Tada said. “I know the clocking may not please everyone,  but it was exactly what we wanted. The way he moved was very good, and his breath was really good after the work.”

Tada said Casino Drive may put in a similar work Sunday, June 1 and  Wednesday, June 4 or he just may give him a more conventional work on Wednesday, depending on how fit he feels the colt is. He said Fujisawa is scheduled to arrive in New York on Tuesday, June 3.

He also said no decision had been made on a jockey, with an announcement to come later Wednesday or Thursday, May 29.

While Belmont favorite Big Brown is looking for an historic Triple Crown to go with his victories in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I), Casino Drive could make history of his own. He is produced from Better Than Honour, whose offspring Jazil and Rags to Riches won consecutive Belmont Stakes in 2006 and 2007. Also, the Belmont will mark the third career start for Casino Drive, an impressive winner in his career debut in Japan before coming to the U.S. to win the Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II).

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