2023 Kentucky Derby Hopeful Snapshots: Practical Move

Welcome to 2023 Kentucky Derby Prospect Snapshots, where we’ll take a look each week at a recent winner on the Triple Crown trail, usually from the Road to the Kentucky Derby schedule from which the racehorses earn points toward qualifying.

The 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve will be held May 6, 2023, at Churchill Downs.

This week, we’ll take a closer look at Practical Move, winner of the $200,000 Los Alamitos Futurity on Dec. 17 at Los Alamitos.

Practical Move earned 10 points toward qualifying for the 2023 Kentucky Derby with that win, which places him sixth on the latest Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.

Racing Résumé: Although Practical Move had not crossed the finish line first in any of his previous four starts entering the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Futurity, hence the 10.60-1 odds in a five-horse field, he had never finished worse than third and had established consistent form. His lone previous win came via the disqualification of fellow Los Alamitos Futurity entrant Fort Bragg in a one-mile maiden special weight race Oct. 1 at Santa Anita Park, when he was impeded by that foe near the top of the stretch and again in midstretch.

Considering he also stumbled at the start of that race, it was a very promising victory that he followed up with a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Bob Hope Stakes Nov. 20 at Del Mar in his stakes debut.

Stretching out in distance to 1 1/16 miles for the Los Alamitos Futurity, Practical Move delivered a career-best effort to prevail by 3 ¼ lengths. He tracked a solid pace of :46.66 through a half-mile from just in behind Carmel Road, rallied through an opening on the inside, and pulled well clear with a final sixteenth of a mile in 6.56 seconds.

Heavily favored Arabian Lion was on Practical Move’s outside flank on the final turn but could not match strides with the eventual winner.

Speed Figures: Practical Move earned a 97 Equibase Speed Figure for his career debut in August at Del Mar when he ran second at 24.60-1 odds to eventual multiple Grade 1 winner Cave Rock. He hovered between 83 and 87 in his next three starts before jumping back up to a 94 for the Los Alamitos Futurity. Practical Move earned an 88 Beyer Speed Figure for his stakes win, one point off the career-best 89 he earned in his debut. Right now, he’s not quite as fast as the elite of this division – Forte and Cave Rock – but he is within striking distance with time to develop and improve.

“He’s a big horse, he’s developing,” trainer Tim Yakteen told Daily Racing Form. “We had a good trip. He ran dynamite.”

Running Style: The pace-pressing/stalking running style Practical Move employed in his Los Alamitos Futurity win looks like ideal tactics for a colt with a solid cruising speed and some propensity for finding trouble. Unfortunately, that trouble has frequently come at the start of his races, forcing him to rally from farther off the pace than trainer Yakteen probably would prefer. But with five starts he has experience using different tactics as well as the versatility to run a good race either pressing, stalking, or closing. That’s a plus.

Connections: Tim Yakteen, a former assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, conditions Practical Move for co-owners Pierre and Leslie Amestoy and Roger Beasley, a partnership that purchased the Practical Joke colt for $230,000 at the 2022 OBS spring sale of 2-year-olds in training.

Last spring, several of Baffert’s top runners on the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks trail were transferred to Yakteen because Baffert was ineligible to compete in the races, and Yakteen won the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby with Taiba. Yakteen also has won Grade 1 races with Points Offthebench and Mucho Unusual.

Drayden Van Dyke rode Practical Move for his first four starts and Ramon Vazquez was aboard for the first time in the Los Alamitos Futurity.

Pedigree Notes: Practical Move is from the second crop of three-time Grade 1 winner Practical Joke, who was at his best in one-turn races but talented enough to stretch out and run big in longer races like a runner-up finish in the 1 1/8-mile Toyota Blue Grass Stakes and a third in the 1 1/8-mile Betfair.com Haskell Invitational Stakes in 2017. He’s off to a solid start as a stallion with Grade 1 winner Chocolate Gelato and graded stakes winners Wit and Girl With a Dream joining Practical Move among his 18 stakes winners through Dec. 18.

Practical Move was produced by multiple stakes-placed winner Ack Naughty, by 2005 Belmont Stakes and Preakness Stakes winner Afleet Alex. Ack Naughty was a winner at 1 1/16 miles and is a half-sister (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to stakes winners So Lonesome and No Spin. The family is anchored by Practical Move’s third dam (maternal great-grandmother) Hot Lear, by Lear Fan, who was a multiple stakes winner and second or third dam of recent stars such as Commissioner, Laugh Track, and 2019 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Vino Rosso.

Derby Potential: Yakteen said told Daily Racing Form he will give Practical Move some time off following his dominant win in the Los Alamitos Futurity but tentatively plans to stay in Southern California for the spring with races such as the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes on March 4 and the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on April 8 the logical targets. The colt pressed a solid pace and finished pretty strongly in the Los Alamitos Futurity, which bodes well, and he’s shown some versatility as a runner and the ability to handle adversity (although much of it has been self-inflicted with poor starts). He’ll need to boost his speed figures to be a major player in the Santa Anita Derby and Kentucky Derby, but we’re not talking about a huge leap as much as some incremental improvement with maturity.