10/09/2008 12:00AM

Casino Drive to race on Sunday

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Casino Drive, the undefeated 3-year-old colt from Japan, will start in an optional claimer at Santa Anita on Sunday in advance of a scheduled appearance in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Oct. 25.

Casino Drive is part of a seven-horse field in Sunday’s eighth race, which is run over 1 1/16 miles. The decision to start Casino Drive in the prep race, as opposed to training him up to the BC Classic, was made on Thursday, after Casino Drive breezed five furlongs in 1:02 at Hollywood Park.

“He will run definitely,” said Nobutaka Tada, the racing manager for owner Hidetoshi Yamamoto. “He’s feeling very good and that’s why we entered him. We can give him a prep race.”

Thursday at Hollywood Park, Casino Drive worked in company with stablemate Champagne Squall, a maiden. Both are trained by Kuzuo Fujisawa. Champagne Squall was timed in 1:02.80.

“It was an easy breeze,” Tada said of Casino Drive’s work. “After the work, we were happy with him.”

Tada said that because Casino Drive will start in the optional claimer “we don’t have to give him more hard workouts, just keep him happy and in good condition” before the BC Classic.

The optional claimer will be Casino Drive’s first start since winning the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park on May 10. The Peter Pan was supposed to be a prep race for the Belmont Stakes on June 7, but Casino Drive did not start in the final leg of the Triple Crown after suffering a bruised foot.

After missing the Belmont Stakes, Casino Drive was sent back to Japan and resumed training there in late summer, Tada said. He arrived at Hollywood Park at the start of October.

A Kentucky-bred colt by Mineshaft, Casino Drive is unbeaten in two starts, the first of which was a maiden race in Japan in February.

Casino Drive will start from post 2 in Sunday’s race, which has drawn Asperity, By Spot, Dakota Phone, Gregorian Bay, Informed, and Sensational Score.