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Japan Cup 2009

The 2009 Japan Cup had one of the most exciting finishes in an international Group One race in recent years.

The 12 furlong turf race was won by a matter of mere millimetres by brilliant five year old Japanese mare Vodka, who somehow managed to hold off the late run of Oken Bruce Lee.

Vodka became the first Japanese bred female to win the Japan Cup and stake her claim to be the greatest race mare in Japanese racing history.

Red Desire was third and the favourite Conduit, who is a dual Breeders Cup Turf winner, was fourth.

Vodka, trained by Katsuhiko Sumii for owner Yuzo Tanimizu, was ridden by Christophe Lemaire for the first time. Vodka had finished fourth in the 2007 Japan Cup as a three year old three and was third in 2008 behind Screen Hero.

“Hyperion” (Robert Bishop), who was at Tokyo racecourse, commented “I thought that Oken Bruce Lee, a former Japanese St Leger winner, had just got past Vodka before the finishing post but, the longer the photo enquiry went on, I thought it could be a dead heat”.

At the Media Conference at Tokyo racecourse after the race, Christophe Lemaire said “Vodka was relaxed despite the noise of the crowd” and “when we went into the straight I knew she would go easily”.

Asked about the finish, Christophe Lemaire said “I asked her to go at one and a half furlongs and she was a sensation of power”.

He added that his key job as a new jockey on Vodka was “…to relax her and keep her power for the last 200 metres”.

Hyperion adds “It has certainly been Vodka’s year. Her win in June’s Yasuda Kinen, when she was hampered in running twice in the straight, was mercurial and today she has managed to hold on to win the Japan Cup”.

The 18 runner field included 2008 Japan Cup winner Screen Hero, Just as Well, Interpatation and Marsh Side.

Vodka suffered a nosebleed at the end of the race and had to miss the Arima Kinen.

Conduit was retired to be a stallion at Big Red Farm in Japan.

Vodka, who in 2007 became the first filly in 64 years to win the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) has now amassed ten wins in 25 starts, including a victory in the 2008 Group One Tenno Sho (Autumn) and the Yasuda Kinen in both 2008 and 2009. She was also Japanese Horse of the Year in 2008.

Vodka is by Tanino Gimlet out of the Rousillon mare Tanino Sister.

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