Kentucky Derby pedigree profile: Forever Young

April 1st, 2023

A powerful seven-length victory in Japan’s Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun at Kawasaki Racecourse stamped Forever Young as a formidable 2024 Kentucky Derby (G1) contender, a status he confirmed with globetrotting victories in the Saudi Derby (G3) and UAE Derby (G2).

Horses based in Japan have enjoyed abundant international success in recent years. 2022 Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun winner Derma Sotogake used his victory at Kawasaki as a springboard to a 2023 campaign highlighted by a win in the UAE Derby, a sixth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, and a runner-up effort in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). But Forever Young—who is unbeaten in five starts—has the potential to rise even higher.

Forever Young is a son of Real Steel, winner of the 2016 Dubai Turf (G1) racing 1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles) on turf in Dubai. A son of Japan’s legendary Triple Crown winner Deep Impact, Real Steel was produced by the Storm Cat mare Loves Only Me, which makes Real Steel a full-brother to Yoshito Yahagi’s 2021 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) winner Loves Only You.

Loves Only You won four Group 1 races over distances from 2,000 meters to 2,400 meters (about 1 1/4 miles to 1 1/2 miles). Real Steel was a bit speedier, recording all three of his group stakes wins over 1,800 meters, but it’s worth noting Real Steel stretched his speed to finish second by a neck in the Kikuka Sho (G1) traveling 3,000 meters (about 1 7/8 miles) against the top-notch seven-time Group 1 winner Kitasan Black.

At stud, Real Steel is off to a promising start. He ranked second by progeny earnings among Japan’s first-crop sires of 2022, and he’s already sired 2,200-meter (about 1 3/8-mile) St. Lite Kinen (G2) winner Lenbensstil and 1,600-meter (about one-mile) Daily Hai Nisai (G2) winner All Parfait.

Turning to the bottom half of Forever Young’s pedigree, his dam is Forever Darling, an American dirt sprinter who scored her signature victory in the 6 1/2-furlong Santa Ynez (G2) at Santa Anita. As a broodmare in Japan, Forever Young has foaled Danon My Soul (a maiden winner racing 1,700 meters/about 1 1/16 miles on dirt) and Mon Favori (a three-time winner sprinting 1,200 meters/about six furlongs on turf).

Forever Darling, in turn, is a daughter of San Pasqual H. (G2) winner Congrats out of Frizette (G1) and Matron (G1) runner-up Darling My Darling. That makes Forever Darling a half-sister to Alcibiades (G1) winner Heavenly Love.

Congrats placed in a couple of Grade 1 races over 1 1/4 miles, but seemed most comfortable tackling slightly shorter routes and has proven to be a source of speed at stud, with his progeny winning at a modest average distance of 6.8 furlongs. That said, daughters of Congrats have foaled all types, from Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) winner Caravel to Kentucky Oaks (G1) heroine Shedaresthedevil and 1 1/4-mile Queen’s Plate S. winner Safe Conduct.

In short, Forever Young’s pedigree blends Japanese grass stamina with American dirt speed, giving him the potential to shine racing 1 1/4 miles in the Kentucky Derby.