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The Japanese trained mare Vodka must have been the most unlucky loser on Super Thursday.
She passed the post in fifth behind Balius in the Jebel Hatta (G2), a crucial prep for the Dubai Duty Free (G1) on World Cup night. Full of running all the way up the straight, Vodka was boxed in for most of the way and could never deliver her challenge.
Whatever your overall view on the Duty Free may be, do not judge her chances based on that result alone.
True, she did get a gap eventually, but Vodka takes a bit of time to get into full flight and when the opportunity finally presented itself, it was way too late. She was beaten two lengths behind Balius, while giving the winner one pound. That she will beat him on the big day seems a fair bet. She could do more than that. Vodka is capable of beating them all. Provided, of course, that she used up her quota of bad luck here last time.
Racing on the inside saves ground, but it can also be risky, especially with a horse that does not have that instant acceleration needed to shoot through the gaps. A middle to high draw would probably be best for this tall, long striding daughter of Tanino Gimlet, who is one of the best turf runners in Japan.
Vodka has been successful at Group 1 level over eight, ten and twelve furlongs in her homeland, she has finished in the first three in 13 of her 19 starts, and she can safely be described as a very game and consistent performer. She was fourth to Jay Peg in the Duty Free last year, though her form has improved since and Vodka holds a winning chance this time.
The Katsuhiko Sumii trainee was particularly impressive when slamming Armada (a top miler from Hong Kong) in the valuable Yasuda Kinen (G1) over a mile at Tokyo Racecourse last June, and she beat the four-time G1 winner Daiwa Scarlet by a nose in the Tenno Sho Autumn (G1) over 10 furlongs at the same venue in November. These are two of the most prestigious events in Japan.
Add in results like a win against the boys in the Japanese Derby (G1) back in 2007, and a game third to Screen Hero in last year’s Japan Cup (G1), and you will agree that Vodka is a lady with first rate credentials. What makes her so unusual is her versatility. She combines speed and stamina and, judged on her run in the Japan Cup, she would not be out of place in the Sheema Classic (G1).
Published: 2009-03-16 15:20:10
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