Vodka Rebounds in Yasuda Kinen

Four-year-old filly earns first win since capturing last year's Japanese Derby.

(from Japanese Racing Association report)

Vodka, winner of the 2007 Japanese Derby (Jpn-I), ended a year-long win drought with a stunning 3 1/2-length win in the Yasuda Kinen (Jpn-I), the final leg of Asian Mile Challenge June 8 at Tokyo Racecourse.

Yasunari Iwata rode Vodka, the second choice in the large field of 18, to victory in his first try aboard the the 4-year-old filly. Retgular jockey Yutaka Take was committed to ride Suzuka Phoenix.

Before a crowd of nearly 67,00, Vodka rated in third or fourth position after being pushed from the gate by Iwata. Expected leader Kongo Rikishio was hurried to the lead while the Hong Kong galloper Armada settled outside the leader.

As the field entered the final straight, Kongo Rikishio still had a handy lead, and Whyte was getting anxious on Armada, pushing him along to try and catch the leader. But when Iwata pulled Vodka around the heels of the leader with about 300 meters to go, she shot away from the field to open a break of about four lengths. Armada got past Kongo Rikishio to grab second. In the final 100 meters outsider Eishin Dover poked through the center of the field to grab third, three-quarters of a length behind Armada.

Vodka completed the distance in a time of 1:32.7 on firm ground.

The winner, coming off a second-place finish in the Victoria Mile May 18 over the course, was bred by owner Yuzo Tanimizu at his Country Bokujo, and is trained by top Japanese trainer Katsuhiko Sumii.

Air Shady grabbed fourth ahead of Suzuka Phoenix, with early leader Kongo Rikishio finishing sixth. The 2006 winner Bullish Luck ran about in the straight (he finished 14th) which seemed to cause a few problems for other runners including the favored Super Hornet (11th) Good Ba Ba (17th). Super Hornet's effort could be considered respectable after missing the start and experiencing some interference in the straight.