06/05/2008 12:00AM

Casino Drive works slow half-mile


ELMONT, N.Y. - Jockey Edgar Prado got acquainted with his Belmont Stakes mount, Casino Drive, on Thursday morning, putting him through a modest half-mile workout track clockers timed in 55.80 seconds. The Belmont main track was muddy.

Casino Drive followed his stablemate Spark Candle, who broke off about six lengths in front of him. Spark Candle, who is running in Friday’s Hill Prince, came extremely wide into the stretch while Prado guided Casino Drive to the inside and past Spark Candle at the eighth pole. Casino Drive did not appear comfortable over the muddy surface, switching his leads back and forth several times coming through the stretch.

Casino Drive got his last quarter of the move in 26.96 seconds.

"He was looking at the footprints [on the track]," Prado told trainer Kazuo Fujisawa with racing manager Nobutaka Tada interpreting. "He did everything himself. I didn’t have to encourage him."

Casino Drive, who is 2 for 2 including a victory in the May 10 Peter Pan Stakes here, is seeking to become the third straight offspring of the mare Better Than Honour to win the Belmont Stakes. Jazil won the race in 2006 and Rag to Riches did it last year, becoming the first filly in 102 years to win the race.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman