California Horses Practical Move, Reincarnate, Skinner Running In Kentucky Derby 2023

Written By Dave Bontempo on April 25, 2023 - Last Updated on May 5, 2023
Multiple horses from California will run in the 2023 Kentucky Derby, from

California Dreamin’ surrounds the May 6 Kentucky Derby, as three California horses will run at Churchill Downs.

Practical Move, Reincarnate and Skinner will represent California under the Twin Spires.

Entries from the California circuit add to the lively big-race shadow already cast by Golden State.

Online sports betting is not permitted, but betting on horse racing in California is alive and well.

NOTE: Since publication on April 25, Practical Move and Skinner both scratched from the Kentucky Derby due to fevers.

California roundup

Practical Move is currently getting 10-1 odds to win, good for third-best in the field.

Reincarnate battled his way into the Derby with a pair of gallant finishes outside of California, and has 50-1 odds.

Skinner, a cancellation entry, will try to become the Cinderella story Rich Strike was last year, with 20-1 odds.

Let’s take a look at it all. And if you’re interested in betting on the action, we’d recommend FanDuel Racing California.

Practical Move has pocketed two giant wins

It has been an interesting, upward arc for Practical Move.

He showed some spark last August, finishing third behind Cave Rock in Del Mar. He also finished second to National Treasure in a follow-up race.

The credentials for Practical Move soared when Cave Rock became the 2-5 favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November.

Forte would upset Cave Rock on his home course of 5-1 in November, and it’s been the last time he was playable on the win line. Forte was 1-2 in the Fountain of Youth and 1-9 in the Florida Derby races, which he won.

Practical Move, meanwhile, continued a steady ascent. He prevailed in a race at Santa Anita and finished the year with a victory in the Los Alamitos Futurity.

And then came the banner 2023 Santa Anita double. It started with the San Felipe, in which he was a 9-2 choice behind. This was the last time he’d be a relatively unknown quantity.

It’s worth noting that his chances improved immediately in that race when National Treasure was scratched with a foot injury.

Throughout the event, he enjoyed a ground-saving rail trip from Ramon Vazquez, who gambled that the rail would open up around the turn. It did, and Practical Move poured through and prevailed definitively.

The Santa Anita Derby was a more difficult task one month later. Practical Move went off as the even-money favorite with National Treasure, now back in the lineup, the 5-2 second choice.

Practical Move was all out in going up to 1 1-8 miles, fending off the valiant challenge of upstart Mandarin Hero. Practical Move barely hung on, Mandarin Hero was second and Skinner was third.

The ascent is notable. He has soared beyond National Treasure, who was ahead of him last year.

RELATED: Without Sports Betting, Kentucky Derby Biggest Gambling Event In CA

Reincarnate stays determined

This 3-year-old has been a study in dogged determination. It’s hard not to root for a horse that battled gamely in three different scenarios, gaining just enough points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.

The magic journey began in January, as the son of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champion Good Magic was a 16-1 long shot in the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita.

Reincarnate broke sharply and was engaged in a wicked speed duel with 2-1 favorite Spun Intended. The pair blitzed through opening fractions of 22.28 for the quarter-mile, 45:57 for a half-mile and 1:09:55 for six furlongs.

Those speed figures are usually lethal, leading to a horse fading in the stretch. But he held on determinedly, under Santa Anita’s leading jockey Juan Hernandez. That was a tremendous victory at a big price over 1 mile.

Then it was on to the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn. Not only did the track come up sloppy, but Reincarnate broke poorly. He rallied for third and picked up some valuable Kentucky Derby points.

At the Arkansas Derby. Reincarnate was beaten decisively enough by Angel of Empire, but barely held on for third at 1 1-8 miles. That gave him 20 qualifying points and barely enough to get in.

Like all other Derby horses, he faces the pressure of going the novel 1 1–4-mile distance. But he always looks fit.

Reincarnate was initially trained by Bob Baffert, but California bettors will notice he’s now guided by Tim Yakteen.

Baffert is suspended from the Kentucky Derby because of a positive drug test revealed from 2021 Derby winner Medina Spirit. Under terms of the suspension, Baffert’s horses were allowed to pick up Derby qualifying points if another trainer took them over.

From a handicapping perspective, nationwide bettors often view Santa Anita and Del Mar as speed-favoring tracks that deceptively boost a horse’s performance. It relates to the Coors Field effect in baseball.

Skinner: Waiting in the Wings

Can this third-place finisher in the San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby make noise at the Kentucky Derby?

That question matters more than ever after what happened last year.

Like Skinner, Rich Strike was just outside the top 20 after qualifying races last year. One day before the Derby, it looked like he would not run in it. But five minutes before the entry cutoff, a horse by the name of Ethereal Road was scratched, and Rich Strike was put in.

The rest, as they say, is history. Rich Strike captured the Derby at a shocking 80-1, the second biggest long shot ever to win the Run for the Roses. Donerail has the standard of 91-1 in 1913.

For California fans and bettors, it would be heartwarming to see Skinner perform well. He was a hard-charging third in both California stakes races and gives the impression that the longer the race goes, the better he is.

Setting the 2023 Kentucky Derby scene

The beauty of Del Mar, outside San Diego, and the majesty of Santa Anita, in Arcadia, create a cherished niche in the sport.

Santa Anita will host the multi-million-dollar Breeders’ Cup in November for a record 11th time. That’s the equivalent of hosting 11 Super Bowls.

Santa Anita has produced many Derby winners. It hosts two major Kentucky Derby preps with the San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby’s in March and April.

Many Santa Anita Derby winners have won the Kentucky Derby including Justify, the last Triple Crown winner, in 2018.

And there’s one more California angle to this year’s Kentucky Derby. Flavien Prat, one of Santa Anita’s leading riders, is scheduled to ride Angel of Empire, one of the Derby favorites, on May 6.

Dave Bontempo Avatar
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Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is a writer for PlayCA, and has covered the horse racing and boxing industry extensively since the 1980s. He was an award-winning writer at the Press of Atlantic City. As a broadcaster, he has won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting, issued by the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has called major fights for HBO, ESPN, Showtime, and other networks since the 1980s. He is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. Dave shifted gears to cover the emerging legalized sports-betting industry in 2018. He now serves as the go-to authority on horse race betting across multiple websites, including PlayCA and California Casinos.

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