05/27/2007 11:00PM

Japan: Vodka, a filly, takes Derby


Vodka became the first filly since 1943 to win the Tokyo Yushun, or Japanese Derby, when she slammed 17 male rivals into submission in the $2.8 million, 1 1/2-mile classic at Tokyo Racecourse.

Under Hirofumi Shii, the 9-1 Vodka rambled home home three lengths in front of longshot Asakusa Kings, with Admire Aura another 1 3/4 lengths back in third. The favored Fusaichi Ho O made up some late ground to finish seventh, 6 1/4 lengths behind the winner. Vodka's time was a fast 2:24.50 on firm ground.

Trained by Katsuhiko Sumii, Vodka is a Japanese-bred daughter of the Brian’s Time sire Tanino Gimlet out of the Rousillon mare Tanino Sister. Crowned Japan’s 2-year-old filly champion by virtue of her win in the Garde 1 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies in December, she was coming off a second-place finish in the one-mile Japanese 1000 Guineas. In breaking a string of six consecutive winning favorites in the Japanese Derby, Vodka became just the third filly to win the race in its 74 runnings. Kurifuji was the last to do it in the the middle of World War II.

So confident of Vodka’s ability is trainer Sumii, that he is contemplating a trip to France for his filly in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, a race in which 2005 Japanese Derby winner, Deep Impact, finished third last year.

Sumii was completing a big-race double with Vodka. Earlier, his Pop Rock won the Grade 2, $1.1 million Grade 2 Meguro Kinen, defeating Coconut Punch by a neck.