Dubai World Cup: Forever Young stamps Kentucky ticket with UAE Derby victory

Rider Ryusei Sakai was overjoyed as the Japanese-bred colt extended his winning streak to five races


Leslie Wilson Jr

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Forever Young, ridden by Ryusei Sakal, wins the UAE Derby at Meydan on Saturday. — Photo by Shihab
Forever Young, ridden by Ryusei Sakal, wins the UAE Derby at Meydan on Saturday. — Photo by Shihab

Published: Sat 30 Mar 2024, 6:36 PM

Forever Young, one of the most exciting three-year-olds in the world today, stamped his ticket to the 2024 Kentucky Derby (G1) when winning the $1 million UAE Derby (G1) convincingly.

The Japanese star is now unbeaten in five starts, including a courageous victory in the Saudi Derby (G3) last month.

Only Argentine-bred Auto Bahn offered some competition when he matched the winner stride for stride heading into the final furlong before having to concede superiority to Forever Young.

Despite being drawn on the outside in barrier eleven his Japanese rider Ryusei Sakai was able to negotiate a path into the main group before allowing the horse to settle.

Content with stalking the pace he allowed the Japanese-bred star-in-the-making to settle into a rhythm before unleashing his feared turn-of-foot for a comfortable two-length victory.

Sakai, who previously sampled success at the Dubai World Cup meeting in 2022 when he won the $ 1 million Godolphin mile with Bathrat Leon, was overwhelmed with his latest accomplishment.

“First of all I was to thank my bosses and all the team that have made this possible,” he said. “I’m so happy.

“I knew he could handle the kickback so I trusted him today. This is very special for me.”

The UAE Derby receives valuable Kentucky Derby points and is considered a major prep race for the American showpiece which could be the next stop for Forever Young.

And it excites 26-year-old Sakai who is already a household name in his native Japan.

“He’s still improving and I’m looking forward to riding him in the Kentucky Derby (G1) (May 4, Churchill Downs),” said the rider who won his first Group 1 contest at Australia’s Caulfield Cup.

Mendelssohn Bay finished best of the UAE-trained horses staying on for third under jockey Pat Cosgrave.


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