06/06/2008 11:00PM

Casino Drive scratched from Belmont

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Casino Drive, the likely second choice in the 140th Belmont Stakes on Saturday, was officially scratched this morning at Belmont Park because of the stone bruise to his left hind hoof.

Nobutaka Tada, the spokesman for owner Hidetoshi Yamamoto and trainer Kazuo Fujisawa, said at about 7 a.m. Eastern that the Japanese-based colt was deemed to be “visibly uncomfortable” after returning from the racetrack following what amounted to a trial training regimen. Discovery of the stone bruise was announced early Friday by the colt’s connections.

The defection of Casino Drive will make unbeaten Big Brown an even heavier favorite in his bid to become the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown. Big Brown was the 1-5 choice after early advance wagering Friday. Eight opponents remain in the 1 1/2-mile race, which is set for 6:25 p.m. Eastern.