11/03/2008 12:00AM

Vodka prevails in tight photo


Vodka outdueled Daiwa Scarlet in the $2.6 million Autumn Tenno Sho at Tokyo Racecourse on Sunday before a crowd of 121,961, beating her fellow 4-year-old filly by the slimmest of noses in a photo that took the stewards 20 minutes to decide.

Victory for the Katsuhiko Sumii-trained Vodka, who in 2007 became the first filly to win the Japanese Derby since 1943, also produced a track record of 1:57.20 for 1 1/4 miles. This year's Japanese Derby winner, Deep Sky, was just a neck farther behind in third and only a nose in front of fourth-place Company.

Ridden by perennial Japanese champion jockey Yutaka Take, the 8-5 favorite Vodka caught the 5-2 Daiwa Scarlet on the wire. Absent since June 20 when she won the Grade 2 Osaka Hai, Daiwa Scarlet led every step of the way until collared by the winner, who is a daughter of 2002 Japanese Derby winner Tanino Gimlet.

Despite her victory, Vodka still trails Daiwa Scarlet 3-2 in their five lifetime meetings. They will not meet in the Japan Cup at Tokyo on Nov. 30 as Daiwa Scarlet will bypass that race in favor of the 1 9/16-mile Arima Kinen on Dec. 28 at Nakayama, where the shorter stretch better suits her front-running style. The Japan Cup however, is scheduled to feature three Japanese Derby winners in Vodka, Deep Sky, and Meisho Samson, the recent 10th-place finisher in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.