Kentucky Derby

Casino Drive questionable for Belmont

ELMONT, N.Y. -- Casino Drive, the would-be spoiler in Big Brown’s Triple Crown quest, is questionable for the Belmont Stakes on Saturday. The possibility exists he might be scratched.

The Japanese-based son of Mineshaft, who is second betting choice in the race, did not go to the track Friday. He is dealing with a suspected bruise to his left hind foot, according to Nobutaka Tada, racing manager for Casino Drive’s owner, Hidetoshi Yamamoto.

“The Belmont Stakes is tomorrow, so we’re concerned,” Tada said Friday morning.

Tada explained the problem as “a small issue with his left hind leg” that the stable suspects is a bruise caused by stepping on a stone.

“It was a small movement that we did not like,” Tada said. “We are planning on running but we have to be sure he is well.”

Casino Drive has been pointed to this 11/2 mile, $1 million race since last year when his half-sister, Rags to Riches, won the Belmont Stakes. Casino Drive’s half-brother, Jazil, won the race in 2006.

Casino Drive is undefeated in two starts, one of them in Japan and one at Belmont Park.

Tada said the colt will be watched closely from now until race time. He said if Casino Drive shows sufficient improvement he will be given a “canter,” similar to a slow gallop, if he appears to need exercise the morning of the race.

Casino Drive’s stable will have up to 45 minutes before the Belmont Stakes to decide whether to race.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader