05/10/2008 12:27PM

Peter Pannery


I'm going to let Casino Drive beat me in today's Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont. He's a pretty cool story, but could be a drastic underlay as the 2-1 morning-line favorite.

Casino Drive is the third consecutive foal produced by the Deputy Minister mare Better Than Honour to be pointed for the Belmont Stakes. The first was Jazil (by Seeking the Gold), who won the 2006 edition. The second was Rags to Riches (by A.P. Indy), who won it last year, the first filly to do so in 102 years. Now Casino Drive (by A.P. Indy's son Mineshaft) will make his American debut in the Peter Pan as a prep for the Belmont. where he will try to complete what might be the greatest pick-three by a broodmare in classic history.

It's a bold bid, and you have to like the moxie of Hidetoshi Yamamoto, the Japanese video-game magnate who bought the colt for $950,000 as a yearling in September of 2006, three months after Jazil's victory and three months before Rags to Riches made her racing debut. But 2-1 on a colt with one career start, albeit an 11 1/2-length romp in a $134,000 (!) maiden race at Kyoto Feb. 23? (A link to video of the race is here.) He missed a scheduled second start when quarantined during an influenza outbreak, arrived here April 30, and will be making his first start in 11 weeks.

“He should be better after this race,” the stable's racing manager told The New York Times. “He’s ready to run, but it’s been more than two months since he raced and he had a 13-hour flight from Tokyo and quarantine. He needs a race.”

The most obvious alternatives to the favorite are Tomcito, the 2007 Peruvian Triple Crown winner who was third in Big Brown's Florida Derby and 6th in the Blue Grass in his two American starts, or Golden Spikes, runner-up in Recapturetheglory's Illinois Derby. I'll instead lean on two slower-to-date but lightly-raced and improving colts, Ready's Echo (6-1 ML) and Cosmic (8-1 ML.) Ready's Echo is the colt who made up nearly 20 lengths in his 5 1/2-furlong debut running second to Z Humor at Saratoga and has two nice efforts since. Cosmic, a son of El Prado and Heavenly Prize, is a green and goofy colt who has won his last two starts, both at a mile and an eighth on the dirt, and has improved his Beyer figure in each of his six career starts.

The G2 Peter Pan is preceded by the G3 Bold Ruler, a race that completely baffles me. So maybe I'll try a 2x2 late-double criss-cross into the statebred maiden finale, using Ready's Echo and Cosmic with Writingonthewall and Letsgoyankees, second-time starters who look like stickouts now that the race has been moved from the grass to the main track.

Update 6:30 pm: Just got back from Belmont, where Casino Drive announced he will be a serious force in the June 7 Belmont Stakes with a smashing 5 3/4-length victory in the Peter Pan. Slammed from 2-1 to 6-5 in the final five minutes of betting, the strapping chestnut colt ran a powerful race. He broke slowly from the inside post, recovered quickly rushing up the rail, then settled nicely in fourth as his entrymate Spark Candle pushed Mint Lane through fractions of 23.08, 46.31 and 1:10.47. Desormeaux swung him out on the turn and Casino Drive quickly collared Mint Lane and Golden Spikes, pulling 2 1/2 lengths clear through a mile in 1:35.26, and widened his advantage with every stride through a final furlong in 12.61 for a final time of 1:47.87. Mint Lane held second narrowly over Ready's Echo, who lost contact with the field early and belatedly came from another zip code to be third.

There were two other one-turn routes on the card, both at a mile and a sixteenth. In the 5th race, a very impressive 3-year-old first-timer from Darley, a $1 million Unbridled's Song yearling named Unbridled's Heart, won his debut by 10 lengths over a solid field of maidens in 1:42.12. One race later, That'srightofficer won a statebred N1x in 1:44.14. I suspect we'll be hearing a lot more from not only Casino Drive but also Unbridled's Heart.

We've now got four pretty exciting undefeated 3-year-olds now who are a combined 10-for-10: Big Brown (4-for-4), Harlem Rocker (3-for-3), Casino Drive (2-for-2) and Unbridled's Heart (1-for-1).

Owen More than 1 year ago
...I would much rather know what the raw figures was and if they want to give their considered projection of the value of the form of a race, by all means give us that too. Saying a figure seemed too high so we adjusted it, should be left to the judgment of the individual bettor. Timeform does it the right way in England, with a figure for the Form value of a race and another for the Time value of a race. In the interest of disclosure I should admit that I did work for Timeform for 8 years!
george quinn More than 1 year ago
There is no amount of money that could lure Kent D. off of Big Brown in the Belmont if he wins the Preakness. Did I say no amount? I take that back. George in Lexington Ky.
Jeff Moss More than 1 year ago
Impressive of Stronach to ruin two races with one fell swoop. So now we get Big Brown at 1-to-5 in the Preakness and Harlem Rocker at 1-to-9 in the Queen's Plate. How very sporting of you, Frank.
tbone More than 1 year ago
A quetion for Mr. Crist and anyone else with an opinion: I have a question about using multiple tickets for pick 4's. If you have a race you want to spread in, and think the favorite is not an A, should you just toss them out. It seems like a waste to put them in as a B or C when the price will be low and you don't like their chances enough to make them a real contender in the race. Thanks for the help.
Jeff Moss More than 1 year ago
Mike Fox. Edenwold. Wild Desert. Niigon. Wow, Matt Smith, some of the all-time greats have won recent renewals of the Queen's Plate. What an achievement that would be for this horse who is eerily similar to Bernardini to this point in his career. I am not sure if he could have defeated Big Brown Saturday, but he definitely had a shot and wouldn't have been running for second exclusively. An undefeated horse who posts a 106 Beyer in his 3rd career start isn't running for second against a horse who might bounce like a rubber ball. In comparison to the owners of Casino Drive, the lack of sportsmanship displayed by Energy Drink Boy is amazing.
Mike More than 1 year ago
Silver Charm, Pat Day - no question he's a decent human being, but way overrated as a jockey. He never quite made the cut in NY, especially at Saratoga. And I'll never forgive him for ruining Easy Goer's chances at Triple Crown greatness. All right, Shug should have put blinkers on the horse, too, but I'm trying to focus on Pat Day here.
Eric B. More than 1 year ago
Steve, OK, adding Lt. Ron, we have 5 exciting, undefeated 3yos who are a combined 12 for 12. Care to lay odds on how many of these will be running next year? How about an over/under on how many will be standing stud at Darley?
matt smith More than 1 year ago
who knew this 5 week saratoga blog would now have a sponser---congrats steve---as for stronach ruining te race---why would he run for second at his track in baltimore when he can win a triple crown in canada---which is really a better and truer test of racing because your horse has to win on polytrack, dirt, and turf---
george quinn More than 1 year ago
The big problem with the Preakness is if you catch the trifecta, which will not be as easy as you think. Even with the free square in the top spot, your win odds will not reflect your exotic odds. For example Big Brown at 1-5 over two 20-1 shots still will only net you about 80 dollars. Big Brown with all with all is no solution because if the second choice clunks up for second, you lose! What I am trying to say is, even with the surprisingly large field, it is a crummy betting race. George in Lexington Ky.
steven_crist More than 1 year ago
Owen, A speed figure is quite different from a Timeform rating. By definition, a speed figure is a numerical assessment of the final time of a race, modified by the speed of the racetrack that day or, if the track condition is changing, for individual races on a card. Providing a "raw" figure would be useless and simply the equivalent of providing you with the raw final time of the race, which the pp's already do.