Bat Flip. (Susie Raisher)
By Ryan Martin
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Harrell Ventures and Starlight Racing’s Bat Flip brought a newfound turf affinity into his stakes debut and passed the test with flying colors, besting a field of nine juveniles in Saturday’s fifth running of the $120,000 Central Park going one mile over the Aqueduct Racetrack outer turf.
Bat Flip did not show much in his first two career starts this summer over the Saratoga Race Course main track. But a surface switch has made all the difference for the bay son of freshman stallion Good Magic, who completed the exacta behind graded stakes winner Nagirroc in his six-furlong turf debut on September 24 here before a last out graduation on October 23 going 1 1/16 miles over the Big A turf for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher.
“He really took to [the turf] and I was really pleased with his last race stretching out, so we aimed for this,” said Pletcher, who saddled Never Surprised to a Central Park score in 2020. “I loved the way he finished; I loved the way he galloped out. Looks like a promising colt.”
Bat Flip broke from post 2 under Jose Ortiz, who hustled his charge into second position approaching the first turn with the Joel Rosario-piloted Dr. Settle’s Dream commanding the early tempo through an opening quarter-mile in 23.57 seconds over the firm going. Ortiz tipped Bat Flip to the outside of the pacesetter and was only a neck back in second through a half-mile in 47.15. Under no urging from Ortiz, Bat Flip inched his way up to even terms with a tiring Dr. Settle’s Dream as 7-5 favorite General Jim launched his bid from the four path.
Ortiz began to get busy aboard Bat Flip passing the three-sixteenths while General Jim battled to the outside of dual stakes-placed Dandy Handyman. Bat Flip had plenty left to keep them both at bay and won by 1 1/2 lengths in a final time of 1:34.30. Dandy Handyman finished a head to the better of General Jim. Ramblin’ Wreck, Liar’s Poker, Calycanthus, Noble Huntsman, Let’s Go Big Blue and Dr. Settle’s Dream completed the order of finish. Sweetlou’sgotaces was scratched.
Bat Flip returned $11.20 for a $2 win bet and banked $66,000 in victory while boasting lifetime earnings of $147,750 and a record of 5-2-1-0.
The win was Bat Flip’s third straight race piloted by Ortiz, who described the colt as a “manageable horse.”
“He has speed and he can rate, also,” Ortiz said. “He’s not a horse that needs the lead. When he ran six furlongs on the grass, he let us know that he could come from behind and pass horses. When we stretched him out for the first time he broke well and I let him be and he went wire to wire. Today, he had a horse in front of him and he settled, which is great. I loved the trip today.”
Ortiz said when stablemate Calycanthus, piloted by Irad Ortiz, Jr., to his inside and Liar’s Poker, under Dylan Davis, to his outside broke so sharp, he had to coax his charge in order to gain position into the first turn.
“Dylan broke well and Irad broke well as well and they were right next to me, so I had to hustle a little bit to make sure I’m there,” Ortiz said. “The horse responded well and I was able to settle mid-turn and I put him outside Joel along the backside and it was a pretty nice trip after that.”
Pletcher said Bat Flip appeared to have plenty in the tank heading into the final turn.
“It looked like Jose had his hands full and looked like he had a lot of horse,” Pletcher said. “When he turned for home, you could see he was kind of still holding him together waiting to let him out, so I was glad to see him respond the way it looked like he was going to.”
Pletcher said the surface switch has proved beneficial.
“I just decided to give it a try,” Pletcher said. “We felt like he was training well enough on the dirt, but he always seemed like he was just not quite polishing things off the way we would hope. So, we decided to give him a try on the grass and it seemed like it made a big difference.”
Pletcher added that he would not rush to point Bat Flip to a next start but will take a look at the 2023 stakes calendar and map out a campaign from there.
Bred in Kentucky by Fifth Avenue Bloodstock, Bat Flip is out of the Harlan’s Holiday mare Krazy Kathy – a full-sister to graded stakes winner and Pletcher alumnus Intense Holiday and a half-sister to turf graded stakes-winning millionaire Money Multiplier. He was bought for $350,000 at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale, where he was consigned by Indian Creek.
Live racing returns Sunday at the Big A with a nine-race card, featuring the $120,000 Tepin, the $150,000 Discovery and the $150,000 Autumn Days. First post is 12:20 p.m. Eastern.