A first-out maiden winner on Feb. 23 in Japan, Casino Drive is undefeated in two lifetime starts and will be making his California debut on Sunday. After winning the Peter Pan, Casino Drive was entered and scratched from the June 7 Belmont Stakes on the morning of the race due to a stone bruise.
By 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft, Casino Drive is a Kentucky-bred half brother to 2005 and 2006 Belmont Stakes winners Jazil and Rags to Riches. He arrived at Hollywood Park on Oct. 2.
Casino Drive drilled five furlongs Thursday morning at Hollywood in 1:02, breezing. He will be vanned to Santa Anita Sunday morning, according to racing manager Nobutaka Tada. “He should be at Santa Anita around 10 a.m. tomorrow,” he said.
Handled by top Japanese jockey Yutaka Take and Kent Desormeaux in his first two starts, Casino Drive will be piloted for the first time on Sunday by Victor Espinoza.
“Victor was supposed to ride the horse the first time he ever ran in Japan,” said Espinoza’s agent Tony Matos. “He wanted to go, but he had to ride Crown of Thorns here that day. Victor knew about Casino Drive before he even ran. He had his ticket and everything to go to Japan.”
Casino Drive drew post position number two in a field of seven on Sunday. Post time for the eighth race is 4 p.m.