If you are like us at The Hawaii Herald, you are coming back to work after a long Memorial Day weekend. We hope that it was a relaxing and enjoyable one.

With summer officially upon us, much of the world is bubbling over Big Brown, the undefeated horse who will try to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978 at the June 7 Belmont Stakes. However, there has been serious doubt in the air after Big Brown suffered a crack in his hoof – an injury that kept him off the track for a few days before returning for a brief jog today.

But a cracked hoof is not the only threat looming in the distance. We told you a few weeks ago about the burgeoning Japanese horse racing industry; well, it is a product of that industry – the mysterious Casino Drive – that experts say has the chance of upsetting the herculian Big Brown. Newsday’s Johnette Howard has an extensive article on Casino Drive’s chances at the Belmont, and some pretty interesting trash talking by Big Brown’s trainer, Rick Dutrow:

Big Brown has been so dominant in his five career races against many of the same horses he’ll face again in the June 7 Belmont that his looming showdown against the relatively unknown but highly touted Casino Drive already is starting to take on the feel of a match race. Everyone else is supposed to fight to merely stay in the TV frame by the end of the 1 1/2-mile race.

Casino Drive has been cast as Ali’s Frazier, Borg’s McEnroe, Russell’s Celtics versus Wilt’s 76ers. The new colt has run only two career races, both wins, but he turned in the same sort of scintillating performances that announced Big Brown’s greatness at Saratoga last September and the Florida Derby this spring.

That explains why Casino Drive is seen as the only threat to stop Big Brown’s sprint into immortality. But Dutrow doesn’t see it.

“He has no chance of beating our horse. None,” Dutrow said Wednesday. “I’ll be running to the winner’s circle when [Big Brown] hits the quarter pole.”

As if that bit of gamesmanship wasn’t enough, Casino Drive’s lineage makes the Big Race even more intriguing: the last two Belmont winners – Jazil and Rags to Riches – are Casino Drive’s half-brothers. All this comes with a little under two weeks to go before the race – plenty of time for new developments and trash talking to occur between each racing camp.


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