06/25/2007 12:00AM

Admire Moon, Meisho Samson 1-2 at Hanshin


Admire Moon outdueled Meisho Samson to win a sterling renewal of the Grade 1, $2omillion Takarazuka Kinen at Hanshin on Sunday in a race in which the first two probably earned tickets to hunt bigger game in Europe later this year.

Only third in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hong Kong after his victory in the Dubai Duty Free, Admire Moon flew home for a half-length victory at 5.70-1 over the 3.20-1 Meisho Samson. Trained by Hiroyoshi Matsuda and ridden by Yasunari Iwata, Admire Moon won at the highest level for the first time in Japan, covering the 1 3/8 miles on good ground in 2:12.40. Pop Rock was third, while the favored filly Vodka, recent winner of the Japanese Derby, came home eighth, 9 1/4 lengths behind the winner. It was another 10 3/4 lengths back to the disappointing Daiwa Major in 12th.

Admire Moon's next start could be in England at York on Aug. 21 in the Juddmonte International Stakes, a race in which Japanese invader Zenno Rob Roy finished second in 2005. Three-time Gradeo1 winner Meisho Samson, meanwhile, has been earmarked by trainer Shigetada Takahashi for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on Oct. 7.