Saudi Cup Undercard: Forever Young Tops in Saudi Derby

Saudi Cup Undercard: Forever Young Tops in Saudi Derby

Forever Young (JPN) and Sakai win the G3 Boutique Group Saudi Derby, King Abdulaziz Racecourse, Mathea Kelley-Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, Feb. 24, 2024

Forever Young staged a stretch-long rally and edged U.S-based Book’em Danno in the final stride to win the $1.5 million Saudi Derby (G3) at King Abdulaziz Racecourse on Saturday.

The Saudi Derby victory was yet another big one for Japan on the international stage and puts the undefeated 3-year-old on a path that could take him to the Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs on May 4.

Japan may have a Kentucky Derby contender in Saudi Derby winner Forever Young

In the main event later in the evening, Senor Buscador staged a winning rally of his own for a final stride win over Japan’s Ushba Tesoro in the $20 million Saudi Cup (G1).

Trained by Yoshito Yahagi, 3-5 favorite Forever Young (4-for-4) overcame a slow start and wide trip before a dramatic run to the wire under Ryusei Sakai.

The UAE Derby is not a points qualifier for the Kentucky Derby, but it’s likely the son of Reel Steel will run next in the UAE Derby (G2) in Dubai on March 30 – the race offers Derby points of 100-50-25-15-10 to the first five finishers.

“He didn’t have a good start. He was wide out and it was a tough race, but he ended up winning, so we are very satisfied,’’ Yahagi said. “He didn’t like the kickback, so the jockey kept his wideout.

“Still, he had a very good performance, so I’m very happy about that. We will first head to the UAE Derby before hopefully the Kentucky Derby.”

Book’em Danno, trained by Derek Ryan, ran what looked to be a winning race under Irad Ortiz, Jr., but he could not hang on at the end. “He just got caught on the wire, but he ran really good,’’ Ortiz said.

Japan has won three of the five editions of the Saudi Derby – the others were in 2020 with Full Flat and last year with Pink Kamehameha.

In other races on the Saudi Cup undercard:

Tower of London (IRE), 3-1, won by a head bob over Enemy in the $2.5 million Red Sea Turf Handicap (G3). The winner was ridden by Ryan Moore and trained by Aidan O’Brien for Coolmoore.

Spirit Dancer (GB), 13-1, won the $2 million Neom Turf Sprint (G2) by one length over Japan’s Killer Ability for co-owner Sir Alex Ferguson. Oisin Carr was aboard for trainer Richard Fahey. Luxembourg, moved out of the Saudi Cup lineup into this race, finished fourth.

— 16-1 longshot Annaf (IRE) captured the $2 million Saudi Turf Sprint (G2) for trainer Mike Appleby. Rossa Ryan was aboard.

Remake (JPN), 7-2, ran down Hall of Fame Steve Asmussen’s Skelly in the shadow of the wire and won the $1.5 million Riyadh Dirt Sprint (G3). Yuga Kawada is the trainer; Koichi Shintani was aboard.

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