10/30/2008 11:00PM

Deep Sky, Vodka in showdown


Deep Sky and Vodka will square off in a battle of Japanese Derby winners at Tokyo on Sunday in the $2.6 million, 1 1/4-mile Autumn Tenno Sho, the major local prep for the 1 1/2-mile Japan Cup on Nov. 30.

This 138th running of the Tenno Sho, or Emperor's Cup, features in Deep Sky a versatile 3-year-old son of the Sunday Silence stallion Agnes Tachyon who has also won the NHK Mile Cup and, most recently, the 1 1/2-mile Japanese St. Leger Trial, in which he defeated the subsequent St. Leger winner, Oken Bruce Lee. Riding the crest of a four-race winning streak, Deep Sky will be ridden by Hirofumi Shii.

Vodka , a 4-year-old filly, broke a seven-race losing streak on June 8 in winning the one-mile Grade 1 Yasuka Kinen against males. She prepped with a sharp head second in the 1 1/8-mile Grade 2 Mainichi Okan three weeks ago. Yutaka Take has the ride.

In Daiwa Scarlet they will be meeting a front-running rival who is not to be trifled with. She has beaten Vodka four times, including victories in two Grade 1's, the Japanese 1000 Guineas and the Shuka Sho.

She has been working very well for trainer Kunihide Matsuda, who said, "I think she's a cut above the rest, and as long as she runs at her rhythm, she won't stop, period."