01/26/2009 12:00AM

Vodka votes Japan's best of '08


Vodka outpolled fellow female Daiwa Scarlet in the Japan Racing Association voting for 2008 Japanese Horse of the Year announced on Monday, becoming just the third filly or mare to achieve that honor. The victories of Vodka, a Katsuhiko Sumii-trained daughter of Tanino Gimlet, in the one-mile Yasuda Kinen and the 1 1/4-mile Autumn Tenno Sho also earned her top filly and mare honors as she joined Tomei and Air Groove as the only females to be named Japan's champion Thoroughbred.

Vodka defeated Daiwa Scarlet, winner of the Arima Kinen, by 180-79 in the voting, with the Japanese Derby winner, Deep Sky, third with 37 votes. The Mitsugo Kon-trained Deep Sky was, however, the unanimous choice as champion 3-year-old colt.

Little Amapola, winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup over older fillies and mares, took 3-year-old filly honors by a wide margin over the Japanese 1000 Guineas, winner Reginetta.

Screen Hero, the surprise 40-1 winner of the Japan Cup over Deep Sky and Vodka, was named best older horse. Buena Vista, a Special Week colt trained by Hiroyoshi Matsuda, took the juvenile colt title, while Seiun Wonder, a Masazo Ryoke-trained daughter of Grass Wonder, earned 2-year-old filly honors. Kane Hekili, who won both the Japan Cup Dirt and the Tokyo Daishoten after having been out of action for nearly 2 1/2 years, took his second title as Japan's best dirt horse.

Yasutoshi Ikee, with 51 victories, and Katsuhiko Sumii, with $13.3 million earned, shared trainer honors, while Yutaka Take won his 18th riders title with 151 victories despite being sidelined for nearly two months with a broken arm. Yasunari Iwata, however, took the riders' title in terms of earnings with $31.6 million.