Billy Batts Rallies To Win $75,000 Baffle Stakes By 1 ½ Lengths As Rispoli Notches First-Ever Santa Anita Stakes Win; Miller Trainee Gets 5 ½ Furlongs On Turf In 1:03.37
ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 7, 2020)–With a hot pace to exploit, classy Billy Batts rallied strongly through the lane to take Friday’s $75,000 Baffle Stakes at 5 ½ furlongs on turf by 1 ½ lengths while providing jockey Umberto Rispoli with his first-ever Santa Anita stakes victory. Trained by Peter Miller and owned by Rockingham Ranch, Billy Batts got the distance in 1:03.37.
Idle since running a close second in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at one mile here Nov. 1, Billy Batts broke sharply and was fourth, about three lengths off the lead heading into the far turn. With his stablemate Bullet Proof One, the lone filly in the race, carving out fast fractions, “Billy” reeled her in leaving the furlong pole and won in very impressive fashion.
“It was a great opportunity to ride a horse like him,” said Rispoli, a 31-year-old Italian native who began riding at Santa Anita on Dec. 28. “He comes from the Breeders’ Cup, so people were expecting a lot and Peter was confident in the run. He broke quite sharp and for the first couple of furlongs, he was asking me to (be into the race). When we swung out, he was full of run.
“I’m very happy for that and I’m very happy that my first stakes win didn’t take so long. I love this place. I love the people, I love the weather, I love everything. Every time my boy (Hayden, 2 ½) comes out, I win!”
Stakes placed in his last three starts, Billy Batts, a Kentucky-bred ridgeling by City Zip, was the second choice in a field of six sophomores at 2-1 and paid $6.80, $4.20 and $2.80.
“I thought (Bulletproof One) had a better chance at five and a half, but they pressed her pretty hard the whole way and it took its toll,” said Miller. “Billy is a good horse and we needed to get a prep into him to get him ready (for a one mile dirt race in Saudi Arabia on Feb. 29).”
Out of the Giant’s Causeway mare Down to Hearth, Billy Batts, in registering his first stakes win, is now 8-2-3-1 and with the winner’s share of $48,120, he increased his earnings to $302,560.
Last early, Rager rallied well to be second by a half length under Drayden Van Dyke. Off at 9-1, he paid $10.20 and $5.20.
Rookie Mistake, no match for the top two, was third by a length over Bulletproof One and paid $2.80 to show with Mario Gutierrez up.
Fractions on the race were 22.75, 45.38 and 57.19.
Note: Baffle, a multiple stakes winner on turf and dirt, was owned by Canadian timber magnate Frank McMahon (who also owned Majestic Prince, winner of the 1969 Santa Anita and Kentucky Derbies, as well as the Preakness Stakes) and trained by Johnny Longden. Baffle, who was effective sprinting and at middle distances, set the hillside turf course record for 6 ½ furlongs on Feb. 7, 1970, when he stopped the clock in 1:11 4/5 under Wayne Harris, a mark that stood for more than 20 years.
First post time for a nine-race card on Saturday is at 12:30 p.m. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.