(Forever Young / Photos by Holly M. Smith)

There’s an old saying in and around racetracks, and, since I’m older than most these days, I have heard it a few  times now. I’ve used it, too, a few times, now. And, I understand it, too.

It goes something like this:

“If he beats me…he beats me.”

That’s my take on the Japanese import Forever Young, who will make his next start this coming Saturday in the 150th Kentucky Derby.

To me, the horse has a better name game than a racing one.

Yeah, I know the horse has raced five times in his life, and he has won all five. I know he has won by an average of 2.5 lengths. I know he won the G2 UAE Derby in his last start in Dubai, after a ship from Japan to Korea and then to the Middle East.

And, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I know that “The Sheets” of the self-promoted Ragozin Data experts are high on the 3YO Japan-bred and raised colt by Real Steel.

And, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I know that my great friend, Ed DeRosa, from over at www.HorseRacingNation.com, and my wonderful friend, Kaitlin Free, who is one of the best young talents in our sport today and helps anchor the in-house analysts at Churchill Downs, both like Forever Young, too, to have a big shot on Saturday.

But get this, my friends. I ain’t betting a single dime on this horse.

Not even a Shekel — a historic Mesopotamian coin which may be even older than the 150th Kentucky Derby.

And, here’s why. Very simply put.

No horse in the first 149 years of the Kentucky Derby who hails from Japan has ever won the “Run for the Roses.” Zero for 149.

No horse who has ever won the G2 UAE Derby has ever won the “Greatest Two Minutes in Sports.” Zero for 149.

No horse trained by a Japanese trainer or ridden by a Japanese jockey has ever won the Kentucky Derby. Zero for 149.

In fact, these horses — which have gained in popularity among the wagering public over the past few years in all kinds of international races — have never even come close.

A year ago, the highly touted Derma Sotogake shipped from Dubai to Kentucky and ran 6th in the 2023 Derby. He was the 19th UAE Derby winner to test the waters in Louisville, only to find them way, way too deep. No winner of that Derby prep has ever hit the board, with Master of Hounds doing the best with a 5th in 2011.

If that is not deflating enough, just consider the breeding factors here, as well. Forever Young is by the Japanese stallion Real Steel. Out of his first 307 foals, he has had 218 starters in a very restricted and limited race environment. Of those 218 starters, he has had 130 winners.

The numbers say…

The sire has produced 42.35 winners from foals.

On the other hand, just consider the stats of Sunday Silence, a Kentucky Derby winner who went on to become Japan’s most successful stallion ever.

He sire 1089 winners (69.9%), with 171 stakes winners (11.0%) from 1558 named foals.

Forever Young is in-bred to both Mr. Prospector and to Northern Dancer, two of the greatest stallion influences in the American stud book. He has a Dosage Index of 3.00.

But there are better pedigrees in this year’s Derby. To me, much better.

Sierra Leone is by Gun Runner and out of a Stakes-winning Malibu Moon mare.

Chasing Freedom is by the best son of Tapit, to date, Constitution and out of a Stakes-winning Pioneerof the Nile mare.

Just Steel is by the great young stallion Justify and out of a Stakes-winning Australian mare.

Just a Touch is by Justify and out of a Stakes-winning Tapit mare. Wow.

Resilience is by the great Into Mischief and out of a winning Smart Strike mare.

And, then there’s the odd, morning workouts of the Japanese-bred horses that have travelled to Kentucky to take a shot at the majestic Kentucky Derby, too.

They are slow works. Methodical works. Deliberate works. Works that, heretofore, just don’t work.

He has shown a strange pattern of racetime behavior, too, acting immature at times; not changing leads at the proper times, at times.

I’ll be outlining my betting strategy soon for this historic Kentucky Derby. Some of it is already posted on other pages on this same site. But I won’t be including Forever Young.

If he beats me, he will have to beat me.

But why anyone would want to plunk down their hard-earned money on a horse with so many holes and questionmarks?

Beats me.