Practical Move held on tenaciously by a nose to capture the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, validating his position as the best 3-year-old colt in the west.
Pulling hard, Practical Move sat behind the pace in tandem with National Treasure to his outside. He took control at the five-sixteenths pole and was all out to hold off Japanese invader Mandarin Hero and San Felipe (G2) third-place finisher Skinner. The Tim Yakteen trainee completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.69 and traveled his final furlong in 12:96.
Bred by Chad Brown & Head of Plains Partners, Practical Move didn't meet his $90,000 reserve as a Keeneland September yearling. Instead, he sold for $230,000 at the OBS April auction to Leslie Amestoy, Pierre Amestoy Jr., and Roger K. Beasley.
Practical Move earned 100 qualifying points from his Santa Anita Derby victory and heads to the Kentucky Derby with 160 points, second only to Forte's 190.
Practical Move (Practical Joke - Ack Naughty, by Afleet Alex) graduated in his third start last October via disqualification of Fort Bragg. He then finished a troubled third in the Bob Hope Stakes (G3) before setting off on a three-race win streak in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) and San Felipe Stakes and finishing up with the Santa Anita Derby (G1). The bay colt has a record of 7: 4-1-2 with $884,200 in earnings.
Practical Joke (Into Mischief - Halo Humor, by Distorted Humor) never won beyond a mile. The precocious youngster won his first three starts, including the Hopeful and Champagne Stakes, both Grade 1 contests, before placing third after a rough trip in the 2016 Breeders' Cup Juvenile behind Classic Empire.
A pair of runner-up efforts in the Fountain of Youth (G2) and Blue Grass (G2) was enough to get the Chad Brown trainee into the Kentucky Derby, where Practical Joke finished a credible fifth. Into Mischief's son completed his 3-year-old season with victories in the one-mile Dwyer (G3) and seven-furlong H. Allen Jerkens Stakes (G1). He was third in the Haskell Invitational (G1) and Cigar Mile (G1) and made up ground from the back of the pack to place fourth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1).
Practical Joke retired at the end of 2017. His offspring are mostly sprinter/milers, although Practical Move and restricted winner Let Her Inspire U both won at nine furlongs.
Practical Move hails from a classy family. His first six dams own black type and are black-type producers, giving us many listed and graded winners, including 2019 champion older horse Vino Rosso and Grade 2 winner Commissioner, who was second in the 2014 Belmont Stakes.
Practical Move's dam Ack Naughty (Afleet Alex - Dash for Money, by General Meeting) is multiple stakes placed from a mile to nine furlongs on turf. He's her first foal to race, and she has an unnamed yearling colt by Complexity.
Ack Naughty spent her career shuttling between Belmont Park and Saratoga, earning $310,450 in 15 starts.
She has two stakes-winning half-siblings, capable from a mile to nine furlongs over the lawn; No Spin (Johannesburg) and So Lonesome (Awesome Again). Practical Joke's second dam Dash for Money (General Meeting), is a Grade 3-placed sprinter, and his third dam Hot Lear (Lear Fan), is a multiple-stakes winning miler.
Who could forget Afleet Alex's (Northern Afleet - Maggy Hawk, by Hawkster) athletic recovery in the deep stretch of the 2005 Preakness or his dominating seven-length victory in the Belmont Stakes? His racing exploits earned Afleet Alex 2005 champion 3-year-old colt honors.
Afleet Alex sired six Grade 1 winners, including Breeders' Cup Juvenile hero Texas Red, Travers (G1) winner Afleet Express and Florida Derby winner Materiality. As a damsire, Afleet Alex is the grandsire of 322 winners, 23 of them in stakes, including Belmont Stakes winner Sir Winston and Hollywood Starlet heroine Dream Tree.
Derby contender or pretender?
Seven of the last 15 Santa Anita Derby winners hit the top four spots in the Kentucky Derby, including winners Justify, California Chrome, and I'll Have Another. Three of them won the Preakness two weeks later, and of course, Justify ruled the Belmont Stakes.
Practical Move has a middle-distance pedigree. He has a smooth gait without excess movement or paddling and mostly keeps a straight line.
Practical Move's margin of victory has decreased in his last three starts. He was all out in the Santa Anita Derby to hold off Mandarin Hero and Skinner, whom he easily bested by 3 3/4 lengths in the San Felipe. This was after Practical Move had a reasonably easy rail trip to save ground.
Tim Yakteen will keep Practical Move at Santa Anita to train up to the Kentucky Derby and ship the week of the race.