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Now Victory posted a powerful front-running victory under substitute jockey Russell Baze in the $75,000 Forty Niner Stakes at Golden Gate Fields Wednesday.

Trained by Dean Pederson, Now Victory won the 1 1/16-mile feature for 3-year-olds and up by 1 1/4 lengths over McCann’s Mojave in an impressive 1:42.15, the best clocking to date for the distance on the new Tapeta racing surface. Siren Lure finished third.

Baze filled in for Frank Alvarado, who opted to ride millionaire McCann’s Mojave in the Forty Niner. Alvarado’s decision was understandable considering McCann’s Mojave provided the jockey with the biggest victory of his career last January when he captured the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic.

Baze was very impressed with Now Victory, a 6-year-old gelding who earned his ninth win in 26 career starts.

“He’s a nice horse,” said Baze. “He’s like a tank. He just pounds himself around there. He’s a big, strong son-of-a-gun and he knows it. When we turned onto the backstretch he wanted to take off. I took a big hold and it was like pulling on a tree stump. He wants to go and he’s good enough to pull it off.”

Now Victory had raced on turf in all but three of his previous 25 races. He passed his first test on a synthetic surface with flying colors.

“There were no other turf stakes here, and he’s trained well over the Tapeta so we thought we’d give it a shot,” said Pederson. “It was in our backyard and we had nothing to lose.”

Now Victory, a son of Sharp Victor, was bred in California by Harris Farms, Inc. Owned in partnership by John Harris and Per Antonsen, Now Victory earned $45,000 for the Forty Niner win, a payday that boosted his career earnings to $428,246.

Now Victory went off as the 3-to-1 second choice in the betting behind 2-to-1 favorite McCann’s Mojave and paid $8.00 to win.

Alvarado said McCann’s Mojave gave it his best but simply couldn’t run down Now Victory.

“We didn’t have any excuse,” said Alvarado. “Now Victory is tough when he’s out there by himself. At the half-mile pole I sent my horse after him to put on some pressure. That horse just didn’t quit. My horse never gave up. He tried all the way.”


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