Practical Move will be in the unusual position of having the target on his back, for once, as he heads a field of nine in Saturday’s $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (G1), which will offer Kentucky Derby (G1) qualifying points of 100-40-30-20-10 to the respective top five finishers
Never previously favored in six starts, Practical Move can not be anything but the public choice in the 1 1/8-mile test following impressive victories in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2), at 10-1, and in the San Felipe (G2) on March 4, in which he looked very strong in scoring by 2 1/2 lengths as a 4-1 chance.
The Tim Yakteen trainee registered Brisnet Speed ratings of 105 and 102 for the two wins, among the best earned by any potential Kentucky Derby prospect.
Geaux Rocket Ride, who was making only his second career start when runner-up in the San Felipe, will attempt to stretch his speed an extra sixteenth, while Skinner will aim to improve on his third-place run in the same prep.
Returning from an injury-enforced layoff is National Treasure, who was last seen finishing third as a 3-5 favorite in the Jan. 8 Sham (G3). Forced to scratch from the San Felipe, National Treasure placed last fall in both the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and American Pharoah (G1).
Low Expectations, second in the Sunland Park Derby (G3) two weeks ago, will look to pad his current Kentucky Derby point total, while a little foreign intrigue will be provided by the Japanese raider Mandarin Hero, who has won four of five starts in his native land. His sire, Shanghai Bobby, won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile over the Santa Anita strip in 2012.
Faiza will look to retain her unbeaten record in the $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks (G2) over 1 1 1/16 miles following earlier stakes wins in the Starlet (G1), Las Virgenes (G3), and Santa Ysabel (G3).
The Bob Baffert trainee cut it close in the former two victories, but won by a more authoritative 2 1/4 lengths in the Santa Ysabel over returning rival And Tell Me Nolies, the Del Mar Debutante (G1) and Chandelier (G2) heroine who was returning from a four-month layoff in that March 5 test.
The Santa Anita Oaks field also includes several intriguing maiden winners. The Richard Mandella-trained Window Shopping won an off-the-turf mile by 16 lengths last out, while stablemate Venganza won on first asking over six furlongs, but is bred to go longer being by Curlin.
Another recent graduate to watch for is Clearly Unhinged, a daughter of Into Mischief who won first out by more than three lengths for Michael McCarthy.
All except Faiza, who is ineligible due to Baffert’s current suspension from racing at Churchill Downs, are eligible to accrue Kentucky Oaks (G1) qualifying points in the Santa Anita version. The distribution is 100-40-30-20-10 to the respective top five finishers.
In undercard stakes action, Gold Phoenix will look to follow up his recent win in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) with a score in the $200,000 Charles Whittingham (G2) over 1 1/4 miles on the turf, while Amy C look to maintain her position as the top older filly turf sprinter on the circuit in the $200,000 Monrovia (G3) following recent wins in the Las Cienegas (G3) and Senator Ken Maddy S.