Practical Move will head to Churchill Downs as one of the favorites for the May 6 Kentucky Derby (G1) after winning Saturday's $751,500 Santa Anita Derby (G1). But the Southern California contingent appears to have significant depth as the even-money favorite had to pull out all the stops to win the nine-furlong test narrowly after a three-way stretch battle.
Receiving a ground-saving trip similar to the one that produced a 2 1/2-length win in the March 4 San Felipe (G2), Practical Move bid inside of tiring pacesetter One in Vermillion approaching the quarter pole, but by midstretch found himself in a heated battle with Skinner, who had finished a distant third in the San Felipe, and Japanese raider Mandarin Hero.
Clinging tenaciously to a narrow lead inside the sixteenth pole, Practical Move dug in and found just enough to repel Mandarin Hero by a nose, with Skinner a half-length behind in third. Second choice National Treasure was fourth and One in Vermillion weakened to fifth in the field reduced to eight following the scratch of expected pacesetter Geaux Rocket Ride.
Trained by Tim Yakteen for owners Pierre Amestoy, Leslie Amestoy, and and Roger Beasley, Practical Move covered 1 1/8 miles over a fast track in 1:48.69 and paid $4. He earned 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, increasing his total to 160.
Mandarin Hero, who arrived from Japan with four wins from five starts, earned 40 Derby qualifying points. Skinner earned 30 points, increasing his total to 45. National Treasure earned 20 points and One in Vermillion 10 points, which pushed his total 15.
Needing three starts to break his maiden, and then via disqualification, Practical Move has since crossed the wire first in three of four stakes appearances. Third in the seven-furlong Bob Hope (G3) at Del Mar in November, Practical Move improved stretching back around two turns, taking the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) by 3 1/4 lengths as a 10-1 chance and then the aforementioned San Felipe at 4-1. Both of those races were at 1 1/16 miles.
Bred in Kentucky by trainer Chad Brown and Head of Plains Partners, Practical Move most recently sold for $230,000 at the OBS April juvenile sale. By Practical Move, he was produced by the multiple stakes-placed Ack Naughty, by Afleet Alex.