06/06/2008 11:00PM

J Be K fast early, all alone late

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ELMONT, N.Y. - J Be K solidified his status as the East's top-ranked 3-year-old sprinter with an emphatic score over eight rivals in the 23rd running of the Grade 2, $250,000 Woody Stephens at Belmont.

J Be K broke alertly, took a short lead outside True Quality through fractions of 22.29 and 44.89 seconds, and unleashed a burst of speed to draw clear into midstretch after six furlongs in 1:08.78.

J Be K was under a mild drive from Garrett Gomez to score by 5 1/2 lengths, and completed the seven furlongs in 1:21.85 over a fast main track. He paid $7.20 to win as a slight favorite over Ready's Image, and earned $150,000.

"He is a speed-tactical horse," said Gomez. "He doesn't need the lead. He was sharp, and allowed me to do what I needed to do. He has grown so much between his last race and this one."

J Be K finished second at odds-on in the Withers last out.

Silver Edition rallied to take second by a nose over True Quality. Majestic Warrior finished fourth as the 5-1 third choice. Ready's Image broke slowly and finished seventh.

As a 2-year-old, J Be K won his debut in track-record time at Saratoga for Bob Baffert. He is now trained by Steve Asmussen. The Woody Stephens was his third win in five starts this year.

"We have always thought so highly of him, especially when he broke the track record at Saratoga last year," said winning owner Ahmed Zayat. "He is a phenomenal sprinter and showed it here. He's getting better and maturing each time. Steve has done a phenomenal job, and Bob Baffert did a great job giving this horse his foundation. If he continues to stay healthy, he'll be back at Saratoga for the King's Bishop."