02/04/2006 12:00AM

Bob and John makes it look easy

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Jockey Victor Espinoza dismounted from Bob and John after winning the $102,500 at Santa Anita on Saturday and was greeted by an inquisitive Bob Baffert.

"It was a workout, huh?" Baffert asked Espinoza.

The performance certainly seemed like one.

Winning his first stakes, Bob and John won the Grade 3 Sham Stakes by 4 1/2 lengths over four overmatched rivals. Owned by Robert and Janice McNair, Bob and John finished 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.15.

The victory was Bob and John's second of the meeting, preceded by an easy win in an allowance race on Jan. 20.

"The racing is really getting battle-tested, even though he hasn't been in a fight," Baffert said. "We're putting the base in him."

Hawkinsville, the early pacesetter, finished second, 1 1/2 lengths in front of Sacred Light. Genre and Woody Be Quick also ran, while the Baffert-trained Sky Diving was scratched. Hawkinsville and Sacred Light were making their stakes debuts.

Espinoza kept Bob and John near Hawkinsville for the first six furlongs, although he said he wanted to avoid the lead.

"I knew they would go slow," he said. "I wanted to be right next to somebody. It worked perfect. In the middle of the turn, I let him run and he opened up in the lane.

"That was about the same as last time. We wanted to make sure he ran. It was easy and I'm really impressed the way he turned around. I think he's betting better with every race."

Bob and John has won 3 of 7 starts and $200,250. In the fall at Hollywood Park, he won the Real Quiet Stakes but was disqualified and placed third for causing interference. Bob and John was also third in the Hollywood Futurity behind top 3-year-old prospect Brother Derek.