Practical Move Prevails in Tight Duel in SA Derby

April 8, 2023

Kazushi Kimura (left) congratulates Ramon Vasquez on the victory. (Benoit Photo)

By Maribeth Kalinich

ARCADIA, Calif.— Leslie A. Amestoy, Pierre Jean Amestoy, Jr., and Roger K. Beasley’s Practical Move gave a thrilling performance to win the $1 million Grade 1 Runhappy Santa Anita Derby for trainer Tim Yakteen. 

The victory earned the colt 100 qualifying points toward entry in the 149th Kentucky Derby with 40-30-20-10 points going to second through fifth places, respectively. 

One in Vermillion under Hector Berrios sprung out of the gate with Low Expectations with Umberto Rispoli up in pursuit, Practical Move well spotted by Ramon Vasquez on the inside of National Treasure with Hall of Famer John Velazquez aboard three lengths behind, Mandarin Hero (JPN)piloted by Kazushi Kimura a half-length to his inside. Dazzlemesilver under Kent Desormeaux on the rail with Skinner with Victor Espinoza up on the outside behind Low Expectations and I Don’t Get It on the rail as they headed for the first turn.

Coming up to the backstretch it was still One in Vermillion in the lead setting a quarter of 22.30 with Low Expectations off his right flank, National Treasure third and Practical Move fourth. 

Several lengths back to the rest of the field was Skinner, Dazzlemesilver, and I Don’t Get It in a tight pack. 

With Practical Move coming slightly ahead of National Treasure the two stayed in tandem up the backstretch with One in Vermillion still in the lead and Low Expectations still in second 

Practical Move and Mandarin Hero hit the wire together in the Santa Anita Derby, Ernie Belmonte, Past The Wire
Practical Move and Mandarin Hero hit the wire together in the Santa Anita Derby (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Heading to the half-mile pole Practical Move comes up along the rail on the inside of Low Expectations into third with National Treasure on the outside four wide with a half of 46.30. Mandarin Hero making a move into fifth just 3-1/2 lengths off the speed. 

The field was compact with less than a half-mile to go Practical Move passes Low Expectations on the rail as Skinner makes a bold early move on the outside with a quarter of a mile to go as Mandarin Hero vies for position into third. 

Practical Move squaring off with 50-1 On in Vermillion coming into the stretch turn with Mandarin Hero and Skinner and National Treasure on the outside.

Practical Move on the rail, Skinner on the outside and Mandarin Hero in between the three-way duel down the straight battling for the victory and at the wire it was practical move taking it by a nose over Mandarin Hero with Skinner in third. 

20 winners of the Santa Anita Derby have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby.

Practical Move on his way to the winner’s circle (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Three lengths back One in Vermillion and National Treasure battled for fourth place and Derby points with National Treasure winning out. 

I Don’t Get It, Dazzlemesilver and Low Expectations complete the order of finish. Geaux Rocket Ride was scratched.

They completed the 1-1/8 miles in 1:48.69.

Practical Move paid $4.00 to win, 3.00 for place and 2.20 for show. Mandarin Hero paid $6.60 and 4.40 with Skinner paying $2.60 for show. 

By Practical Joke out of the Afleet Alex mare Ack Naughty, Practical Move was bred in Kentucky by Chad Brown & Head of Plains Partners. He sold at the Ocala Breeders’ 2022 April 2YOs in training sale for $230,000. 

The bay colt’s third consecutive grade stakes win, he now has 4 wins in 7 starts with 1 second place and 2 third places with $884,2000 in earnings.

Grade I, $750,000, Runhappy Santa Anita Derby Quotes

Jockey Quotes
Ramon Vazquez, Practical Move, Winner: “I made the move a little early because I saw (Hector) Berrios look at me from the inside. I knew he wanted to put me inside a little bit tight, so I just moved my horse to the outside take a new position., made him relax a little bit and when I asked him the last quarter he responded really well. The other horse (Mandarin Hero) is a nice horse too and ran really well. I’m feeling amazing. When you ride a good horse like that, that’s your dream always to go to the Kentucky Derby.

Kazushi Kimura, Mandarin Hero (JPN), Second: “I thought we got him (Practical Move) at the wire. I was on this horse since he got here and he was very comfortable. Today he was a totally different horse. He was very aggressive in company.  It looks like we’ll be headed to the Kentucky Derby. I’ve never been in the race, so I’m really looking forward to this opportunity.”

More from Kazushi Kimura on Past The Wire TV

Trainer Quotes
Tim Yakteen, Practical Move, Winner: “It’s a great feeling to go back-to-back in this race. The rush you get—that’s why you get in the game! You’re calling wire when you’re on the lead, and you’re looking for more when you’re closing ground.”

XBTV’s Millie Ball, Wife Of Tim Yakteen, Trainer Of The Winner And Fourth Place Finishers: “I was sick to my stomach, honestly, I’ve never felt like that during a horse race before, but I just wanted everything to go well for the barn. Both horses ran good. It really is hard to believe that we’re in this position. When you think about the years that Tim’s been in the game and the education he’s had. The people he’s worked underneath, the Charlie Whittingham’s the Bob Baffert’s…It’s, I’m a little surprised Tim’s had the foundation to be put in that position and then know what to do when he’s in this position…For it to all come true, you’ve gotta have so much luck. You’ve got to have the owners behind you, and you have got to have the horse and this horse is incredible, incredible!  If he can get a mile and a quarter, he’ll win the Derby!”

Terunobu Fujita, Mandarin Hero, Second: “We’re going to the Kentucky Derby!” “I’m so proud of him. I thought he would not handle the early pace, but he did. I believed he would have a good acceleration in the final stretch as usual. And he did it. Kazushi Kimura gave a really good ride. He made him accelerate at the final stretch. I thought he was going to win. I’m just so excited right now.”

Owner Quotes
Jean Pierre Amestoy, Jr. Part Owner, Practical Move, Winner: “We were a little worried that he didn’t get through early enough, but he finally made it through. He opened up a little bit, but those are good horses. They came up to him in the end, but he was tough enough. Got his head in front and won the race. I think we are confident. I think we will catch the distance and he’s proven he’s a fighter, he’s a winner, so we’re going to go to Kentucky with our heads high and hope to bring the trophy back to this side of the country.”

“For the best in horse racing, I read Past the Wire, and you should read it too.” Tommy Massis, Racehorse owner, Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Champion  

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