01/28/2008 1:00AM

Admire Moon best in Japan

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Admire Moon, winner of the Dubai Duty Free, Takarazuka Kinen, and Japan Cup, was named Japan's Horse of the Year by the Japan Racing Association on Monday.

A son of End Sweep trained by Hiroyoshi Matsuda, Admire Moon was owned by Riichi Kondo until his June 24 win in the Takarazuka Kinen, after which he was purchased by Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai. After his triumph in the Japan Cup on Nov. 25, he was retired to stand at the sheikh's Darley Stud in Hokkaido.

In a weak year for 3-year-old colts, the Japanese St. Leger winner, Asakusa Kings, was named best 3-year-old male. More interestingly, Daiwa Scarlet, winner of Japanese 1000 Guineas, the Shuka Sho and the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup, was named champion 3-year-old filly over the Japanese Derby winner, Vodka. Daiwa Scarlet also finished second in the Horse of the Year balloting by a margin of 178-73.

Daiwa Scarlet's half-brother, Daiwa Major, who won the Yasuda Kinen and Mile Championship, was declared best sprinter or miler. The Victoria Mile winner, Koiuta, just ninth in the CashCall Mile, was named best older filly or mare, while Vermilion, like Daiwa Scarlet currently preparing for the Dubai World Cup, was voted best dirt horse.

The Bernstein colt Goshawk Ken was named best juvenile colt, while Tall Poppy, a daughter of Jungle Pocket, took 2-year-old filly honors. Yutaka Take, who became the first Japanese rider to crack the 3,000-win mark in 2007, was once again Japan's leading rider in terms of both victories (166) and earnings ($36.2 million).