San Felipe and Practical Move 2023 Prep Race Recap

Kentucky Derby prep race recap of the 2023 San Felipe Stakes and winner Practical Move.
Kentucky Derby prep race recap of the 2023 San Felipe Stakes and winner Practical Move. / Associated Press

The Championship Series races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby featured 15 major prep races that awarded 50 to 100 points to the winner and a spot in the starting gate for the May 6 Kentucky Derby.

The 1 1/16 mile San Felipe Stakes on March 4 was won by Practical Move (4/1), who stalked the pace and took over and cleared in the upper stretch before drawing away for a 2 1/2 length win under jockey Ramon Vazquez. Upcoming Kentucky Derby runner Skinner finished third.

Practical Move then went on to win the Santa Anita Derby on April 8 as the even money favorite, holding off a late rush by Japanese runner Mandarin Hero by a nose and Skinner by a half-length.

Ramon Vazquez rode Practical Move for both those races and will be making his second trip to the Kentucky Derby this time for trainer Tim Yakteen.

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Practical Move Kentucky Derby Top Contender

Practical Move will be one of the main win contenders in the 2023 Kentucky Derby, according to FanDuel Racing odds. His two major prep races wins at Santa Anita have bettors on his side with trainer Tim Yakteen conditioning this horse from the start and now making his second consecutive Kentucky Derby appearance.

The top three finishers from a fast renewal of the Santa Anita Derby all finished the race strong with final 3/8 mile times below 37.5 seconds. Practical Move came home in 37.2 seconds, and his winning time of 1:48.69 ranks as the fastest 1 1/8 mile clocking of the 2023 Championship Series races.

Nine of the last 11 Kentucky Derby winners and 19 of the last 25 finished the final three furlongs of their final prep race in under 38 seconds.

The San Felipe Stakes has been contested at the same 1 1/16 mile distance since the 1950's at Santa Anita Park near Los Angeles in Arcadia, CA. Some of horse racing's best 3-year-olds have won the race. Most recently, Authentic won the San Felipe and then went on to win the 2020 Kentucky Derby. California Chrome also won both race in 2014. Fusaichi Pegasus won both races in 2000. Dortmond (2015) won the San Felipe and finished 3rd in the Derby, and Pioneer of the Nile (2009) won the San Felipe and finished 2nd in the Derby.

Going back over 20 years, Free House was one of the best California-breds ever, and he won the San Felipe in 1997 and finished in-the-money in the Kentucky Derby and all three Triple Crown races. Point Given (2001) won the San Felipe, 5th in the Derby and in-the-money in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Sensational sire Medaglia d’Oro won the 2002 San Felipe and finished 1st or 2nd in 15-of-17 starts, only missing the money in the Derby and Preakness. And two racing legends won the San Felipe and Kentucky Derby - Affirmed in 1978 on his way to winning the Triple Crown, and Sunday Silence in 1989 while also winning the Preakness.

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