March 20, 2023

Practical Move upsets Los Alamitos Futurity; Arabian Lion last

Practical Move and jockey Ramon Vazquez win the Los Alamitos Futurity (Photo © Benoit Photo)

After running consistently well behind a succession of Bob Baffert trainees, Practical Move figured to play a supporting role once more in Saturday’s $200,000 Los Alamitos Futurity (G2). Instead, the 10.60-1 shot upstaged the Baffert trio, including the shocking last Arabian Lion, to earn 10 points toward the Kentucky Derby (G1).

Trained by Tim Yakteen and ridden for the first time by Ramon Vazquez, Practical Move was also crossing the wire in front for the first time. The son of Practical Joke had been awarded his maiden win Oct. 10 via the disqualification of the wayward Fort Bragg, who was among the Baffert posse at Los Alamitos. Practical Move previously finished second to hotshot Cave Rock in their mutual debut at Del Mar, third to National Treasure next time, and third to Havnameltdown in the Nov. 20 Bob Hope (G3) in his latest.

Yakteen believes that Practical Move is putting it all together as he matures. It’s also significant that his two-turn races have been his best – the one-mile Santa Anita maiden where he was hampered by Fort Bragg, and now the 1 1/16-mile Los Alamitos Futurity.

A good trip helped his cause, as Vazquez had Practical Move well placed in third early. Carmel Road, the third-fancied Baffert at 4.60-1, sped forward through fractions of :23.61 and :46.66. Baffert’s 2-5 favorite, Arabian Lion, was tracking in second.

But by the time the field entered the far turn, Practical Move was moving much better than Arabian Lion. The favorite lost position when Practical Move advanced on the inside at the three-quarter split in 1:10.35. It wasn’t a tactical regroup or a momentary blip for Arabian Lion, who was being scrubbed along by John Velazquez to no effect. Stablemate Fort Bragg then overtook Arabian Lion on the outside, relegating him to fourth at the top of the lane, and the favorite soon retreated to last in the five-horse field.

Meanwhile, Practical Move accosted Carmel Road, and the pair drew clear of the rest. Although Carmel Road tried to counterpunch, and hand Baffert a 14th win in this race, he couldn’t contain Practical Move. The further they went, the stronger Practical Move looked, as he widened his margin to 3 1/4 lengths in a final time of 1:41.65.

Carmel Road was best of the rest by 4 1/4 lengths from Fort Bragg, followed by Tall Boy and Arabian Lion. Because Baffert is suspended by Churchill Downs Inc., his runners are ineligible to accrue Derby points. Thus Tall Boy was the only other points-earner from the Los Alamitos Futurity aside from the winner, receiving two points for fourth.

Practical Move, who rewarded his backers with $23.20, boosted his bankroll to $194,200 from a 5-2-1-2 line. Owners Pierre Jean Amestoy Jr., Leslie A. Amestoy, and Roger K. Beasley purchased the bay colt for $230,000 at OBS April.

Co-bred by Chad Brown, who trained both his sire and dam, and Head of Plains Partners in Kentucky, Practical Move initially RNA’d for $90,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. He is out of the multiple stakes-placed Ack Naughty, an Afleet Alex mare from the family of champion Vino Rosso, hero of the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1); Grade 3 scorer Laugh Track, runner-up in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1); and Grade 2 victor Commissioner, near-misser in the 2014 Belmont (G1).