I will have my Belmont selections on Thursday, but for now, I'd like to take a moment and mention one horse that will not be in any of my tickets: Casino Drive.
Surprised? Many of you probably are. After all, he is the horse most say has the best chance of knocking off Big Brown. Not me.
I know all the positives. His Peter Pan was very impressive. His dam produced the last two Belmont winners. Kazuo Fujisawa is the leading trainer in Japan. He looks like he'll enjoy the extra distance. The connections have pointed him towards the Belmont from the very beginning. I know all of this.
What I also know is Casino Drive has made two career starts. Two. And now he will be expected to go 12 furlongs against horses like Big Brown, Tale of Ekati and Denis of Cork, all of whom are more seasoned. Also don't forget that Casio Drive had two and a half months to prepare for the Peter Pan, and he will now be asked to come back in less than a month. That's asking a lot for a horse who made the long trek from Japan to the U.S. and then ran hard in his debut.
Sometimes I think the term "bounce" is overused in racing. In the case, I think it's a legitimate possibility. Most believe Casino Drive will improve upon his Peter Pan. I think he regresses. The connections are saying his slow "works" at Belmont are all part of the master plan. This is how the trainer likes to do things. I'm not buying it. Take a look at his work on May 7, three days before the Peter Pan. It was an impressive :59.95 five-furlong move. Apparently, the strategy was different for that race.
Also, watch the Peter Pan again. His stablemate enabled him to get the perfect stalking trip by dueling with a rival through a :23.08 quarter and a :46.31 half. Casino Drive sat right off that hot pace and was in position to pick up the pieces. He won't have the luxury of that kind of pace in the Belmont, or that kind of perfect trip.
Finally, from a betting standpoint, he is not worth the risk. He will go off at either 3-1 or 4-1, the second choice behind a 1-5 favorite. If you believe Big Brown will finish in the top two, is this the kind of exacta you are shooting for? If a $10 exacta floats your boat, by all means, go for it. If you are like me and are going to put Big Brown on top in exotics, you better be able to find a double-digit horse underneath to make the wager worth your while. If you think Casino Drive will win, well then, go for it.
Would I be shocked if Casino Drive ran a big race? No. He is obviously talented. But the combination of the factors mentioned above are enough for me to leave him out of any ticket. I will try to find others with more value, and more experience.