- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 3, 2008

NEW YORK (AP) | Casino Drive, the colt from Japan, will try to capture the Belmont Stakes on Saturday in only his third career race.

Rarely does a horse with so little seasoning tackle the final jewel of the Triple Crown.

But everything about the unbeaten colt is unusual.

He dominated the competition in both races, winning by 11 1/2 lengths in Japan in February before coming to Belmont Park last month to take the Peter Pan Stakes by 5 3/4 lengths.

Casino Drive likely will be the second choice on the morning line behind Triple Crown hopeful Big Brown when the Belmont post positions are drawn tomorrow.

The way Casino Drive is training for the Belmont is unusual. It is a unique approach by U.S. standards.

Most American-based horses prepare for races with jogs, gallops and workouts on the track. Casino Drive, in contrast, is a power walker, taking vigorous one-hour strolls through the barn area. He then goes to the track for an easy jog before resuming another hour of walking.

“We really try to pick his feet up,” said Nobutaka Tada, spokesman for owner Hidetoshi Yamamoto and trainer Kazuo Fujisawa. “We want him to be ready, so he will be strong.”

Casino Drive might be strong for the Belmont, but he has not been quick in his workouts. The colt’s latest drill Sunday was so slow the clockers did not record it. Unofficially, he went five furlongs in 1:10, about 10 seconds slower than a stakes-caliber horse normally is clocked.

Tada, pleased with the workout, explained the goal was for Casino Drive to pass horses in the stretch and finish strongly. Time was not a consideration.

“What was important was how he finished,” Tada said. “He did it exactly the way we wanted with good acceleration. Just the beginning was slow, then he passed horses quickly. It’s not about the time. It’s about hard work.”

Hold your horses

Denis of Cork and Macho Again will have one less day to get acclimated for the Belmont.

Both horses are stabled at Churchill Downs and planned on traveling to New York today, but their flight was rescheduled for tomorrow.

Denis of Cork put in his final work yesterday, covering four furlongs in 48.60 seconds with Robby Albarado in the irons.

“Robby was very careful not to go too fast too early,” trainer David Carroll said. “He’s very deceiving. He can go fast because he covers a lot of ground, so he was under wraps the last eighth.”

Albarado will have the mount in the Belmont instead of Calvin Borel, who guided Denis of Cork to a distant third-place finish behind Big Brown in the Derby.

Macho Again, second to Big Brown in the Preakness, is scheduled to gallop two miles today.

“We’re just trying to be a little careful,” trainer Dallas Stewart said. “He’s doing great. He’s on his toes and looks awesome, so we’re just hoping to go up there with a lot in the tank.”

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