04/07/2006 11:00PM

Bob and John on right track in Wood win

Bob and John, ridden by Garrett Gomez, justifies his trip from California with a 1 1/2-length win in the Wood.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Bob Baffert's inclination that Bob and John would prefer the East Coast tracks to the harder West Coat surfaces proved on the mark Saturday as Bob and John ran past Keyed Entry in midstretch and splashed home to a 1 1/2-length victory in the Grade 1, $750,000 on a sloppy track at Aqueduct.

Jazil rallied from last at the three-furlong marker to get second by a half-length over Keyed Entry, the 4-5 favorite. Scanlon's Song finished fourth and was followed in the order of finish by Platinum Couple, Deputy Glitters, Greeley's Legacy, Niagara Causeway, and Marco's Tale.

The victory earned Bob and John a berth in the May 6 Kentucky Derby, where 11 previous Wood winners have been victorious.

Bob and John, a son of Seeking the Gold, was coming off a third-place finish in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita. He got off poorly in that race, raced wide throughout, and struggled home a non-threatening third to A. P. Warrior. Baffert thought the Wood was a good spot for Bob and John because Aqueduct was a wider track with a kinder surface.

"A horse like that, a big, long-striding horse, I knew he would love this," said Baffert, who trains Bob and John for the Stonerside Stable of Bob and Janice McNair. "He's always been a good horse, but in California you can't make mistakes because it's so speedy - but it toughens them up."

Bob and John had to overcome some adversity entering the first turn. Edgar Prado sent Keyed Entry right to the front coming out of the gate and guided his horse to the three path entering the first turn. Marco's Tale, who was outside of Bob and John, came over on Bob and John entering the turn. Garrett Gomez, the rider of Bob and John, steadied slightly, and took Bob and John widest of all but into the clear rounding the clubhouse turn.

Keyed Entry carved out fractions of 23.10 seconds, 46.26, and 1:11.01 with Marco's Tale and Bob and John stalking. Around the turn, Marco's Tale faded and Bob and John moved into second. Bob and John was right outside Keyed Entry turning for home and began to pull away inside the final furlong. Bob and John covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.54 and returned $6.40.

At the eighth pole, Baffert said, "We're going to see how tough he is because Keyed Entry is a bulldog, he didn't let us by there too easy. . . . He's still a little green but he got a lot out of it today."

Jazil, who entered the Wood when stablemate Like Now got sick, showed a solid late run while rebounding from a dismal seventh-place finish in the Fountain of Youth.

"We didn't win but we feel like we won," McLaughlin said. "And he belongs in the Derby, we always had a lot of confidence in the horse. It looks like he would like the mile and a quarter."

Todd Pletcher was naturally disappointed in Keyed Entry's third-place finish, but said he would not make a decision regarding the Derby for a few days.