04/25/2007 11:00PM

Following in Congaree's footsteps

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GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Back in 2002, trainer Bob Baffert brought Wood Memorial winner Congaree to Texas to make his 4-year-old debut for Houston-based owners Stonerside Stable, and he ran a powerful race to capture the Lone Star Park Handicap.

Saturday, the connections are looking to repeat the pattern with Bob and John. The winner of last year's Grade 1 Wood Memorial for Stonerside and Baffert, Bob and John will be making his first start at 4 in the Grade 3, $300,000 Texas Mile.

The race is one of four stakes worth a cumulative $470,000 at Lone Star on Saturday. Other stakes include a matchup of Richwoman and Wrenice in the $50,000 Richland Hills, and a field of 12 fillies and mares on turf in the $60,000 Irving Distaff.

Bob and John should go off favored against chief rival Silent Pleasure in the Texas Mile, which drew a field of six. He will be making his first start since finishing second by a half-length in the $106,000 El Cajon at Del Mar on Sept. 2.

"We just let him grow up a little bit," said Baffert. "He was a late foal. So, we just let him fill out. I wanted to have him ready for a summer-fall campaign. He looks good.

"He was always sort of a gangly colt as a 2-year-old, and now he's starting to mature."

Bob and John won 3 of 7 starts last year, and after winning the Grade 3 Sham at Santa Anita and the Wood at Aqueduct was unplaced in both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. For his comeback, he shows a series of strong works, and on Saturday launches what may be a big year.

"He won the Wood; he is a good horse," said Baffert. "He's got the pedigree. But I think he was always immature. He was doing things just on raw talent last year, so hopefully he'll put it all together. He looks great right now. He looks fantastic."

Victor Espinoza has the mount on Bob and John, who could get a tracking trip just off of Silent Pleasure. Silent Pleasure is seeking his fourth straight stakes win, and in his last start set a quick pace in a two-length score in the $100,000 Fifth Season at Oaklawn.

"He's got plenty of speed to lay close to the front and still finish up strong," said Howard Scarberry, who trains Silent Pleasure.

Tracy Hebert will ride.