2024 Kentucky Derby Contenders: FOREVER YOUNG

2024 Kentucky Derby Contenders: FOREVER YOUNG

The 150th Kentucky Derby (G1) is Saturday, May 4, at Churchill Downs, offering a record $5 million purse. The field is limited to 20 starters based on Derby qualifying points from dozens of prep races. 


Forever Young (Jpn)

He won the 1 3/16-mile UAE Derby easily, so 1¼ miles at Churchill Downs should be within undefeated Forever Young’s reach.

Yet you knew that about every other UAE Derby hero who came to Kentucky, and none of the 19 ran better than fifth.

Can this 5-for-5 colt do what other Japanese UAE Derby winners couldn’t? After finishing last in Louisville, Thunder Snow became the only two-time winner of the Dubai World Cup. So even one of Japan’s best found the Run for the Roses too much to deal with.

“Of course, it will be very difficult to manage the horse’s condition going from Dubai to Kentucky,” trainer Yoshito Yahagi said. “But I really believe my team will be able to get him in good order.”

The weight of history and the stress of a 7,400-mile journey are imposing obstacles, but making history on American soil is nothing new for Yahagi. In 2021 at Del Mar he was the first Japanese horseman to have a Breeders’ Cup winner, taking the Distaff with 49-1 shot Marche Lorraine and the Filly & Mare Turf with Loves Only You.

On the plus side, Forever Young has an excellent pedigree for distance, he’s overcome troubled trips, and won stakes in three countries. Negative: He doesn’t handle kickback well, so good luck with that in a 20-horse field.

Maybe Forever Young will finally give Japan its first victory in America’s biggest race. He’ll need a career-best effort, and maybe he’ll join the long list of UAE flops in Louisville. Uncertainty is one of horse racing’s greatest hooks.

“He has so much potential,” Yahagi said. “I always have a lot of faith in him.”

2024 Kentucky Derby Contenders Odds and Post Position: Forever Young

Betting advice: Forever Young is third choice (8-1) behind Fierceness (5-2) and Sierra Leone (7-1) in the final Derby Future Wager, so he’s getting the respect he deserves. Bet him win and place and in the exotics. 

Post position: 10

Odds: 10/1

Jockey: Ryusei Sakai

Trainer: Yoshito Yahagi 

Owner: Susumu Fujita

Career record: 5-5-0-0

Career earnings: $2,049,451

Most recent race: UAE Derby, March 30, (1st)

Top Equibase speed figure: N/A

Pedigree: Real Steel (JPN)-Forever Darling, by Congrats

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notes: Owner Susumu Fujita: “Forever Young continues to attract international attention for the Kentucky Derby, which tells me that he should have a good chance.” … Yahagi, 63, led Japan in wins four times and in earnings for the past five years. He’s a colorful character whose trademark is a collection of “about 300” colorful hats … Jockey Ryusei Sakai is a rising star in Japan. “This horse is yet to be beaten and I feel he’s the champion 3-year-old in Japan,” Sakai said. “I really trust him.”

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