Bob and John, trainer Bob Baffert's most accomplished Triple Crown prospect, returned to the winner's circle Friday with a three-length victory in a $52,800 allowance event at Santa Anita while traveling 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.81.
The Stonerside Stable homebred son of Seeking the Gold
got back on track following a third-place finish behind Brother Derek and Your Tent Or Mine in the Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) on Dec. 17.
Bob and John previously had raced to a seeming six-length domination of Hollywood Park's $100,000 Real Quiet Stakes only to be controversially disqualified for interference through the stretch and placed third.
Thus, Friday's victory was the dark bay colt's first since breaking his maiden by 11 ½ lengths last summer at Del Mar.
"It's exciting to get a horse moving the right way at this time," said Baffert. "Right now we're basically working to get him some more experience. He reminds me a lot of (1998 Kentucky Derby winner) Real Quiet. Hopefully, he's going to peak at the right time."
Bet down to 7-10 favoritism against six other 3-year-olds, Bob and John tracked early pacesetter The Five J's before taking command under Victor Espinoza nearing the far turn. The Five J's, ridden by David Cohen, held on for second, a nose ahead of the fast-closing Sacred Light and jockey Garrett Gomez.
"He really felt nice today," Espinoza said of the winner. "It's great to see that he's coming back to his best again. It's just a matter of time and experience. He's improving every time out."
Bob and John paid $3.40, $2.80 and $2.10. Longshot The Five J's returned $8 and $3.80. The show price on Sacred Light was $2.80.
There were 33 winning tickets in Friday's Pick Six, paying $70,434 apiece after a two-day carryover swelled the total pool to $3,507,341.