11/09/2007 1:00AM

Vodka takes on rival at Kyoto

EmailDaiwa Scarlet and Vodka renew their rivalry in the Grade 1, $1.7 million Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup at Kyoto on Sunday. A daughter of the Sunday Silence stallion Agnes Tachyon, Daiwa Scarlet defeated Vodka in both the Japanese 1000 Guineas in April and again last time out in the 1 1/4-mile Shuka Sho over the Queen Elizabeth course and distance.

In between, however, Vodka surprised the world by winning the Japanese Derby. The Shuka Sho was her first start in four months, so Vodka, trained by Katsuhiko Sumii, should be sharper in her second outing off the layoff. Robe Decollete, fifth in the American Oaks after her Japanese Oaks victory, was only 10th in the Shuka Sho but should do better this time around. Older females Asahi Rising and Sweep Tosho appear to have their work cut out for them against a very strong crop of Japanese 3-year-old fillies.

* The countdown to Hong Kong International Race Day begins at Sha Tin on Sunday when Viva Pataca heads a field of 11 in the Group 2, $386,000 International Cup Trial, the local prep for the 1 1/4-mile Hong Kong Cup on Dec. 9. A two-time Group 1 winner going 10 furlongs at Sha Tin, he should get the best of Bullish Luck, who was fifth in the Sha Tin Trophy off a third in the Dubai World Cup.