Practical Move advanced to the lead in upper stretch and drew off to a 2 1/2-length decision in Saturday’s $402,000 San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita, enhancing his Kentucky Derby credentials in the three-year-old opener. Overlooked at 10-1 when recording a convincing win in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) in mid-December, Practical Move left the starting gate as the 4.20-1 fourth choice among nine rivals in the 1 1/16-mile race.
Ramon Vasquez was up for Tim Yakteen, who has been responsible for the Practical Joke colt since his career debut. Yakteen also saddled Hejazi (fourth), Fort Bragg (fifth), and Mr Fisk (sixth), who were transferred from Bob Baffert, in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series qualifier.
“This horse keeps getting better and better every day,” Vasquez said. “He can go inside or outside. He is comfortable wherever. He lets me do my job and he does the rest. I only rode him once (in the Los Alamitos Futurity), but I know he is very aggressive from the gate, so I let him do his thing. He galloped out very good. I have always dreamed of winning the Kentucky Derby. I had one previous chance in 2015 (aboard Mr. Z) for Mr. (D. Wayne) Lukas. I’m hoping for another chance here.”
The San Felipe awarded points on a 50-20-15-10-5 scale toward a Kentucky Derby berth, and Practical Move moved to second on the leaderboard with a total of 60 points. He was purchased for $230,000 at the OBS April two-year-old sale by owners Leslie Amestoy, Pierre Jean Amestoy Jr., and Roger K. Beasley.
“He is a very healthy horse, he is a phenomenally gifted horse,” Yakteen said. “I am amazed at how strong he is and how he has matured from a two-year-old to a three-year-old. Everything has fallen into place.”
Hejazi, who was off at 3.40-1, set the pace in :23.14, :47.12, and 1:11.08 while being tracked in second by 2.70-1 favorite Geaux Rocket Ride. Practical Move stalked a couple of lengths back in fourth before taking closer order on the far turn, and he angled to the inside Hejazi to take the lead after straightening for home.
Practical Move was timed in 1:42.01.
Geaux Rocket Ride proved second-best by 1 1/4 lengths over Skinner, who rallied from last to edge Hejazi by a half-length as the 2.80-1 second choice. El Camino Real Derby winner Chase the Chaos checked in seventh, and Genius Jimmy came next under the wire. Bluegrass Go Go was eased in the stretch and walked off the track.
A maiden winner via disqualification the third time out, Practical Joke recorded a third in the seven-furlong Bob Hope (G3) before earning his first stakes win in the Los Alamitos Futurity. He’s now earned more than $430,000 from a 6-3-1-2 record. Bred in Kentucky by Chad Brown and Head of Plains Partners, Practical Move is the first foal to race from the stakes-placed Afleet Alex mare Ack Naughty.
The $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (G1) on April 8, a major Kentucky Derby qualifier, is likely next for Practical Move.