Preparation Victory for Casino Drive
Casino Drive is viewed as one of the horses capable of putting pressure on both Big Brown and Curlin in the upcoming Breeders’ Cup Classic. The unbeaten three year old has shown magnificent talent as a racehorse and on Sunday 12 October 2008, Casino Drive once again displayed his superiority, as he comfortably cruised his way to victory in an allowance race at Santa Anita Park Racecourse, as preparation for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Racing on the new Pro-Ride surface that has been installed at the racecourse has also proven to his owner and trainer that he is happy with the surface and ready to take on his next challenge.
After winning his debut race in Japan in February, Casino Drive, who is owned by Hidetoshi Yamamoto and trained by Kazuo Fujisawa, was moved to the United States to get ready for the Belmont Stakes, which took place on 7 June 2008. As preparation for this big event, he was entered into the Peter Pan Stakes, which he won in May, but was unfortunately scratched from the Belmont Stakes, due to a bruise being found on his hind foot. Sunday’s performance was his third victory in three career starts, and just as he was viewed as a formidable competitor for the Belmont Stakes, he is once again the horse to look out for in the Breeder’s Cup Classic.
Running in his first race in five months, Yamamoto and Fujisawa were hoping for a good performance and for their horse to return safely and not too exhausted from the race. But they got more than they bargained for, when Casino Drive quickly settled in under jockey, Victor Espinoza, and took the lead from three wide. Espinoza had no use for his whip but to show it to Casino Drive to keep him focused as they thundered down to the finish unchallenged. After the race Espinoza commented that Casino Drive had more power and energy left, but felt it was unnecessary to tire him when they had a great lead on the other contenders.
The Casino Drive camp feel that the allowance race was the ideal preparation that he needed and that he will be in even better shape at the Breeders’ Cup Classic next weekend. If he performs anywhere close to, or better than he did on Sunday, he will be a major threat to the contender field, as his victory was nothing less than perfect.