Japan’s Forever Young Wins UAE Derby; Next Stop Kentucky Derby

Yes. Forever Young is for real!

And headed to the $5 million Kentucky Derby (G1) after an impressive victory in the $2.5 million UAE Derby (G2) on Saturday at Meydan Racecourse.

And he’s likely to be among the favorites as Japan seeks its first victory in the 150th Run for the Roses on May 4.

“An amazing horse,’’ winning jockey Ryusei Sakai said. “He’s still improving. Looking forward to the Kentucky Derby.”

With his fifth win in five starts, Forever Young earned 100 Derby qualifying points and clinched a spot in the field limited to 20 starters.

Racing Excellence: Forever Young’s Triumph in a Competitive Field

Racing comfortably in fifth and avoiding kickback by staying wide in the 11-horse field, Forever Young took charge coming out of the final turn and easily overtook pacesetter Auto Bahn in the final furlong for the win.

“He’s improved from the Saudi Derby,’’ trainer Yoshito Yahagi said, referring to his 3-year-old colt’s victory last month in the Saudi Derby. “We’re going to head to Kentucky to compete against the best dirt horses. It’s a difficult trip to America, and it’s crucial to improve for the Derby.”

Key Takeaways from the UAE Derby 2024: Notable Finishers and Insights

Auto Bahn was second and earned 50 qualifying points, with U.S.-based Pandagate third (25 points), Mendelssohn Bay fourth (15 points), and Navy Seal fifth (10 points).

This is the third year in a row Japan has won the UAE Derby – Crown Pride won in 2022 and ran 13th in the Kentucky Derby and Derma Sotogake won in 2023 before finishing sixth in Louisville.

Forever Young

Unlike the Saudi Derby (G3), when Forever Young was all out in the stretch to edge Book’em Danno at the wire, his run in the UAE Derby was much different. He was fitted with a face covering to protect him from any sand kickback from the track surface, and Forever Young ran smoothly throughout the 1 3/16 mile race.

The winning time was 1:57.89 over a fast track.

Japan’s Racing Ascendancy: Noteworthy Wins and Future Prospects on the Global Stage

Forever Young was the 1-2 favorite and returned $3.20 for a $2 win bet in the World Pool.

Yahagi is back on the international stage once again. At the 2021 Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar, wins with Marche Lorraine (Distaff) and Loves Only You (Filly & Mare Turf) were firsts for Japan at the world championships. He also won the 2023 Saudi Cup with Panthalassa.

Japan is likely to have a second Derby runner in T O Password, the leader on the Japan road to the Derby.

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