09/01/2005 11:00PM

Bates looking for Ragtime Hope to brighten week


MIAMI - Trainer Larry Bates is hoping what started out to be a rough week will get a lot better on Sunday, when he sends out Ragtime Hope as one of the favorites in the $40,000 Ravolia Stakes on the turf.

Bates was still shook up long after a training-hour mishap resulted in jockey Jose Bello breaking ankle while aboard an unraced 2-year-old named Batesee here Tuesday morning.

"The horse just flipped on him on the macadam," Bates said. "It's just a shame. He's the nicest kid you'd ever want to meet . . . trying to make enough money riding races to bring his family over here from Colombia."

A victory by Ragtime Hope in the one-mile Ravolia would help ease some of Bates's frustration. A 3-year-old daughter of Dixieland Bear, Ragtime Hope is coming off the most important victory of her career, a game wire-to-wire win against the well-regarded Statue in the Noble Robyn Stakes on July 29.

"We've thought a lot of this filly right from the start," said Bates, who trains Ragtime Hope for the Waterfalls Stable LLC. "I wasn't surprised she was on the lead last time, even though she'd been racing from behind because she does have tactical speed. And, boy, was she game. But that's her. She just loves to race."

Bates also credited some of Ragtime Hope's success to her exercise regular rider, the 73-year-old Luis Ramos.

"He's amazing," said Bates of Ramos. "He worked for some big outfits for a long time before coming here - like Greentree and trainer Angel Penna. He's a real class act."

Ragtime Hope is not likely to be in front in the Ravolia, with stretch-out sprinters Flying Circle and Mertie M., both stakes winners in their own right, in the field. But Bates is hopeful his filly will adapt and turn in another big performance.

"She's doing well since her last start, and I think she'll do whatever is comfortable for her out there on Sunday," said Bates. "I expect her to run well again."

The Ravolia has brought together a strong and well-matched field of 12 3-year-old fillies. Along with Flying Circle and Mertie M., other key contenders include stakes winners Darluna, Dansetta Light and Regal Gal along with the red-hot Skiff's Angel, who comes in off a pair of impressive one-mile allowance wins over the turf.

Plesa closing in

Eddie Plesa Jr. continues to close the gap on leading trainer Tim Ritvo, winning four of the first eight races on Friday's card. Plesa, who has won three Tropical-at-Calder training titles but never the Calder spring-summer meet, sent out Count Montbrook to win the opener, recent claim Mystical Beauty to capture the third race, Man Made to a turf win in the fourth, and his promising 3-year old Qureall to victory the featured eighth race as the prohibitive 2-5 favorite.

Plesa's four wins gave him 31 for the meet, just one shy of Ritvo, who also won a race on Friday.