Japan's Forever Young Edges Book'em Danno In Another Saudi Derby Cliffhanger

Forever Young | Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia


Three of the four previous runnings of the $1.5-million G3 Boutique Group Saudi Derby had been decided by less than a length, including a them-versus-us showdown last year when the locally based Commissioner King (Commissioner) outlasted America's Havnameltdown (Uncaptured) by a head in a real war of attrition.

Susumu Fujita's Forever Young (Jpn) (Real Steel {Jpn}) had been the recipient of as much lip service as any horse on the grounds in Riyadh over the past several days, his latest seven-length romp in the Listed Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun stamping him not only as the highest-rated dirt juvenile in Japanese history, but also as a top contender for a race like the GI Kentucky Derby.

A hot favorite on the international markets at 3-4, the Yoshito Yahagi-trainee had very little go his way in the first of Saturday's group races, but he called upon his considerable talent in the final 150 meters and dropped his nose down on the wire just ahead of a very gallant Book'em Danno (Bucchero).

Making his first start going one turn, Forever Young perhaps brushed the gate or was otherwise awkwardly away from stall nine, as US invader Bentornato (Valiant Minister) showed the way up front after the opening couple of furlongs, with company to his inside in the form of dirt debutant Set Up (Jpn) (Declaration of War).

Meanwhile, Forever Young was immediately under the pump from Ryusei Sakai as he slipstreamed a four-wide Book'em Danno approaching the turn, and it was the last-out romping Pasco S. winner who looked to be going best of the bunch when he easily claimed Bentornato leaving the 400-meter pole. Book'em Danno looked every ounce a winner with a sixteenth of a mile to travel, but he began looking for the line over a strip that can place a premium on stamina, and Forever Young–racing on his incorrect lead, but pinching ground off the leader with every stride–took a successful dive at him at the line. The final time was easily the quickest in the five-year history of the race.

“He didn't have a good start,” said Yahagi, winning his fourth race at the Saudi Cup meeting. “He was wide out and it was a tough race, but he ended up winning, so we are very satisfied. He didn't like the kickback, so the jockey kept him wide out. Still, he had a very good performance, so I'm very happy about that. We will first head to the [1900-meter Mar. 30 G2] UAE Derby before hopefully the Kentucky Derby.”

“My heart is very, very tired. Stretching out to distance is very welcome for him. I love Saudi Arabia, I love this country.”

Of the beaten second favorite, Irad Ortiz, Jr. said: “He just got caught on the wire but he ran really good.”

Derek Ryan indicated that Book'em Danno would target the $600,000 GII Pat Day Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard May 4.

Japanese horses won the first two Saudi Derbys with Full Flat (Speightstown) in 2020 and the late Pink Kamehameha (Jpn) (Leontes {Jpn}) in 2021. Both were trained by the trend-setting Hideyuki Mori.

Pedigree Notes

Real Steel, a full-brother to the Yoshito Yahagi-trained, multi-jurisdictional Grade I/Group 1 winner Loves Only You (Jpn), was being represented by his third group winner and first on the dirt.

Forever Steel's third dam won the 1994 GI Ballerina H. for Tri-Honors Stable and Shug McGaughey and was purchased by Nobuo Tsunoda for $750,000 in foal to Storm Cat at the 1998 Keeneland November Sale. Darling My Darling was the second of three foals Roamin Rachel produced prior to her export and she cost John Oxley $300,000 at the 1998 Keeneland September Sale, finishing runner-up in the GI Matron S. and GI Frizette S. at two before adding Keeneland's Raven Run S. at three and the Doubledogdare S. the following year.

Roamin Rachel's first Japanese-bred foal, Stray Cat (Jpn), made just one start and died at 16 in 2015, but bred nine winners from 10 to race, including four full black-type winners. Roamin Rachel's second produce, Zenno Rob Roy (Jpn) (Sunday Silence) put the pedigree on the map as Japan's Horse of the Year of 2004 after taking out the G1 Japan Cup.

In addition to Forever Young's GII Santa Ynez S.-winning dam, Darling My Darling was also responsible for GI Darley Alcibiades S. heroine Heavenly Love (Malibu Moon), the dam of 'TDN Rising Star' and recent GII Risen Star S. hero Sierra Leone (Gun Runner). Following Forever Young is a 2-year-old filly by Kizuna (Jpn), a yearling filly by Epiphaneia (Jpn) and Forever Darling was most recently bred to Rey de Oro (Jpn).

Saturday, King Abdulaziz (Riyadh), Saudi Arabia
BOUTIQUE GROUP SAUDI DERBY-G3, $1,500,000, King Abdulaziz, 2-24, NH/SH3yo, 1600m, 1:36.17 (NSR), ft.
1–FOREVER YOUNG (JPN), 121, c, 3, by Real Steel (Jpn)
1st Dam: Forever Darling (GSW, $217,545), by Congrats
2nd Dam: Darling My Darling, by Deputy Minister
3rd Dam: Roamin Rachel, by Mining
1ST GROUP WIN. (¥98,000,000 Ylg '22 JRHAJUL). O-Susumu Fujita; B-Northern Racing; T-Yoshito Yahagi; J-Ryusei Sakai; $900,000. Lifetime Record: MSW-Jpn, 4-4-0-0, $1,469,451. Werk Nick Rating: A+. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Book'em Danno, 121, g, 3, Bucchero–Adorabella, by Ghostzapper. 1ST GROUP BLACK-TYPE. O-Atlantic Six Racing LLC; B-Gregory Kilka & Bright View Farm (NJ); T-Derek Ryan; J-Irad Ortiz Jr; $300,000.
3–Bentornato, 121, c, 3, Valiant Minister–Her Special Way, by Put It Back. 1ST GROUP BLACK-TYPE. ($45,000 Ylg '22 OBSOCT; $170,000 2yo '23 OBSMAR). O-Leon King Stable Corp; B-Tanma Corp (FL); T-Jose F D'Angelo; J-Luis Saez; $150,000.
Margins: HD, 6, 5.
Also Ran: Ajwadi (GB), Mashhur, Salam Alkhair, Saudi Neom, Oasis Boy (Arg), Almotahed (GB), Satono Phoenix (Jpn), Set Up (Jpn), Haayeet. Click for the JCSA chart (R4).


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