What difference a year makes! Or not.

The Gun Runner Express keeps blazing along, and here at the tag end of 2022, the champion son of Candy Ride is the leading second-crop sire by a massive margin over his contemporaries: $14 million to $7 million , nearly double the earnings of the next-closest pair of Practical Joke (by Into Mischief) and Arrogate (Unbridled’s Song).

But Gun Runner is in a sphere of his own, and some of his competitors seem to be doing quite well on their own behalf.

Interestingly, the top six first-crop leaders at the end of 2021 (Gun Runner, Three Chimneys; Practical Joke, Ashford; Connect (Curlin) Lane’s End; Classic Empire (Pioneerof the Nile) Ashford; Cupid (Tapit) Ashford; and Gormley (Malibu Moon) Spendthrift) are in the same position relative to one another a year later, but into this group a little change has come in the form of Arrogate and Keen Ice (Curlin) Calumet, whose 3-year-olds and second-crop juveniles really pushed them into competition. For instance, Keen Ice would still be in this Elite Eight, even if we subtracted the earnings of 2022 Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike ($2.4 million).

Not bad, comrade.

Likewise, Practical Joke has put in a sterling second season with his racers and is well on his way to being the “next Scat Daddy” among sires shuttling to South America. Practical Joke’s initial crop of racers in the Southern Hemisphere are now three, but from the sire’s first crop in Chile, he has sired four Group 1 winners, so far.

Ashford Stud’s Adrian Mansergh-Wallace noted that “it’s very interesting to see what has happened to Practical Joke down in South America. It is very encouraging. It’s an indicator that something serious is happening, much like we saw it with Scat Daddy. From his first crop in Chile, just turned three, Practical Joke has equaled Scat Daddy’s record of four G1 winners in his first crop, is consistently getting group horses, and it makes you want to pinch yourself that this could be something out of the ordinary. There are big crops coming behind these also.”

For quantity, Practical Joke is the leading sire among this cadre of stallions with their second set of juveniles racing. The son of Into Mischief has the most foals (252), the most runners (176) and winners (89). Gun Runner, on the other hand, leads by the measures of quality, with the most stakes winners (12) and stakes performers (27), as well as the most graded stakes winners (9).

The only glitch for Practical Joke was that he went until October of this year before getting his first G1 winner here in the States. Then, Chocolate Gelato won the G1 Frizette Stakes, the sire has logged the four G1 winners in Chile, and on Dec. 17, Practical Move won the G2 Los Alamitos Futurity, defeating a highly lauded trio of racers trained by Bob Baffert including second-place finisher Carmel Road (Quality Road) and third-place Fort Bragg (Tapit). Practical Move is trained by Tim Yakteen.

Bred in Kentucky by Chad Brown and Head of Plains Partners, Practical Move is out of the stakes-placed Ack Naughty (Afleet Alex) and is the dam’s first stakes winner. Ack Naughty is one of three black-type racers from the stakes-placed Dash for Money (General Meeting); the two others won stakes: So Lonesome (Awesome Again), winner of a pair of New York-bred restricted stakes, and No Spin (Johannesburg), a talented athlete who had a huge stride at the 2011 Keeneland April sale of juveniles in training and won open black-type events such as the Royal Glint Stakes at Hawthorne.

As a yearling, Practical Move was marked an RNA for $90,000 at the 2021 Keeneland September yearling sale and then reappeared earlier this year at the OBS April sale of 2-year-olds in training. Working a furlong in :10 1/5, with a stride length of 25.5 feet and a massive BreezeFig of 77 from the consignment of Eisaman Equine, Practical Move sold for $230,000 to Pierre Jean Amestoy Jr., Leslie A. Amestoy, and Roger K. Beasley. The colt has won two of his five starts, with a second and two thirds, for earnings of $194,200. Ack Naughty produced a colt by Complexity (Maclean’s Music) in 2022 and was bred back to Upstart (Flatter).