Sunday, May 27, 2007

2007 Japanese Derby; Filly Makes History

Vodka, trained by Katsuhiko Sumii and owned by Y.Tanimizu, became the first filly in 64 years to win the Japanese Derby when she came on top at the finish line of the 74th Derby at Tokyo Racecourse on Sunday afternoon. The only two other fillies to win the Derby were Hisatomo in 1937 and Kurifuji in 1943.

Hirofumi Shii took Vodka to settle nicely at the middle of the field early on, while Asakusa Kings with Sun Zeppelin right on his tail was a head of the 18-horse parade. The front two got going strong as the field came into the stretch, but the flying filly Vodka accelerated in the stretch uphill as if she had a mission to the great feat. When she did so, she just blew past the front runners and none of the colts were able to challenge.

With 200 meters to go, Vodka's neck was into front, and yet she won the race by a 3-length from Asakusa Kings. Another 1 3/4-length back Admire Aura came late to get third with Sun Zeppelin and Dream Journey finishing fourth and fifth respectively to complete the money earners.

Vodka paid 1,050 yen for win as third favorite.

Heavy favorite Fusaichi Ho O failed to settle nicely in the early going to finish a disappointing seventh. Second favorite Victory broke poorly and never recovered to end up in ninth place. Final time for the 2,400 meters on firm ground was 2 minutes 24.50 seconds.

Shii said, "I got a good response out of her on the final turn. I pushed her as hard as possibly as we broked away from the pack in the stretch. The plan was to save the ground and bring her to the outside going into the stretch. That's exactly happened in the race. It was the most honorable thing to ride a Derby winner as a jockey. I feel great."

Vodka, a 3-year-old filly by 2002 Derby winner Tanino Gimblet out of the Rousillon mare Tanino Sister, has now won 5 of her 7 races with 2 seconds, and the 190+ million yen first prize of the Derby brought her career eranings to 366+ million yen. Country Bokujo in Shizunai, Hokkaido is the breeder of the bay filly.

Pop Rock takes Meguro Kinen

Less than 2 hours after Vodka's great Derby victory, trainer Katsuhiko Sumii saddled another graded stakes success when his trainee Pop Rock won the g2 2,500-meter Meguro Kinen at the Tokyo night cap. The 6-year-old horse by Helissio won it in 2 minutes 31.40 seconds by a neck from Coconut Punch, a 3-year-old colt who made his first start against the older stakes company.

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