Owners Leslie and Pierre Amestoy have been involved with a bunch of good horses, some of them stakes-winning Quarter Horses, but never anything like Practical Move (Practical Joke). The winner of the GII San Felipe S. and the GI Santa Anita Derby so far this year, he will be among the favorites in the upcoming GI Kentucky Derby.
The TDN Writers' Room podcast, presented by Keeneland caught up with the Amestoys this week to find out more about their operation, their background and their thoughts on Practical Move. They were the Green Group Guests of the Week.
Their trainer Tim Yakteen, has been a big part of the story. While he has deputized for Bob Baffert the last two years with his potential Derby starters, he's not normally someone who you think of when it comes to having Derby starters. But the Amestoys believe he has been a perfect fit when it comes to Practical Move.
“One of my old racing partners, Mike Abraham, knew Tim,” Pierre said. “And then another friend of mine, Jaime Gomez from Los Alamitos, knew Tim. I told them that I wanted to go to a nice barn, but I don't want to be with one of those barns that has 300, 400 horses. I want a more on-hands trainer. They both recommended Tim.
“We didn't meet him Tim till last year's Del Mar meet, when Practical Move was running his first race was. He was just as nice as could be. And we could see the operation in the barn. Leslie trained for ten or 15 years. So we knew what we wanted and Tim was what we wanted. He had a great set up and a good operation.”
The Amestoys, who own Practical Move in partnership with Roger Beasley, bought the horse at last year's OBS April sale. They said he was their number one pick among all the horses in the sale, but almost didn't get him. They budgeted $175,000 for the purchase and wound up paying $230,000. They liked the horse enough that they kept bidding until they got him.
“He was our number one pick, which we never get when we got to sales,” Leslie said. “We always pick the number one and can't buy him. We got him and we had no buyer's remorse ever. Oh, we loved him from the start.”
And that's why they named him Practical Move, because, in the end they thought it was a practical move to buy the colt.
As far as the Derby goes, the Amestoys are already thinking strategy.
“I think he's tactical enough,” Pierre said. “Ramon (Vasquez) can put him where he wants him. I would hope we can get a good enough break that we hit the first turn and we have two thirds of them behind us. We want to be up in the first tier or right behind the first tier of horses. This horse has a really good, really strong, high cruising speed so we can get a good spot and then cruise on the backside and set ourselves up. So if we get our trip, I think coming out of the turn, we're going to be close to the leader and then they're going to have to come get us. If his horse switches leads like he's supposed to I think he'll finish strong.”
Elsewhere on the podcast, which is also sponsored by Coolmore, the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association, Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders, 1/ST Racing, WinStar Farm, and West Point Thoroughbreds, the team of Randy Moss, Zoe Cadman and Bill Finley took a look back at the problems with the track surface at Laurel, the positive results coming out of Hawthorne since that track cut the takeout on win, place and show bets to 12% and the newest additions to the Hall of Fame. Not to be missed, the trio also discussed Proxy (Tapit)'s win in the GII Oaklawn H., and the decision by Jimmy Jerkens, who has been struggling to find the winner's circle the last few years, to start training in Saudi Arabia.
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