Trained by Dean Pederson, Now Victory is owned by John Harris, who bred him, and the Harris Farms' horse trainer, Per Antonsen. The 6-year-old Now Victory earned his first graded stakes victory, as did Pederson.
Now Victory was the clear speed in the field of nine going 1 1/8 miles. After opening up by nearly three lengths while running through the stretch the first time on ground softened by earlier rain, the California-bred Sharp Victor gelding got brave on the front end. He continued to show the way comfortably down the backstretch and pressed his advantage on the final turn.
"That was awesome," said Alvarado. "Dean told me, 'Play it by ear. If they want to give you the lead, take it.' That's what I did. I saw a couple guys take a hold and I went.
"He relaxed really good on the backstretch," continued Alvarado. "Sometimes he can fight me, but not today. When I asked him at the three-sixteenths pole, he gave me everything he had all the way to the wire."
Bold Chieftain tried vainly to make a race of it, rallying from mid-pack on the outside under urging from jockey Russell Baze, but could not seriously challenge. Bold Chieftain faltered in the final furlong as Jack's Wild, another California-bred gelding, finished boldly to take second over Macduff. Bold Chieftain finished fourth.
Jockey Brice Blanc said Jack's Wild got a late start unleashing his closing kick.
"He got shuffled back at the three-eighths," said Blanc. "It backed me up and I had to wait a little bit. Once things opened up, he took off."
Now Victory posted splits on :23, :46 2/5 and 1:10 4/5, coming home in a sharp 1:47 on a course rated good. The winning margin was two lengths.
That caused some huge payoffs. Now Victory paid $64.60, $22.60 and $8.60, topping a $317 exacta with Jack's Wild, who returned $6.80 and $4.20. Macduff, one length farther back with Mike Smith in the irons for trainer Neil Drysdale, was $5.80 to show, rounding out a $2 trifecta worth $4,013.40. The $1 superfecta paid $7,237.20.
In his last start, Now Victory, who dislikes being rated, opened up a sizeable lead in the restricted one-mile California Turf Championship Handicap over the Bay Meadows course. But that day, he was unable to hold off Jack's Wild, settling for third while losing by 1 3/4 lengths. His prior claim to fame was winning back-to-back renewals of Santa Rosa's Joseph T. Grace Handicap the past two years. Now Victory's seventh lifetime win in 23 starts was worth $90,000 and boosted his bankroll to $352,046.
"Look at his form and tell me when he's run a bad race, but this was the toughest bunch he's ever run with," said Pederson. "We didn't do anything different after the last race. He broke slowly that day, but it didn't cost him the win."
Now Victory is out of the Dynaformer mare Zoelu.
Bold Chieftain was seeking his third straight stakes victory.
"A mile and an eighth is probably as far as he wants to go, but on a soft course like this one today it's just too far for him," said Baze. "He struggled with it the whole way. He's game. He went as far as he could but inside the eighth pole there was nothing left."
Favored Isipingo, coming off a third-place finish in the Del Mar Mile (gr. IIT) a month ago, had no response and took fifth. Chattahoochee War, Blue Torpedo and the coupled entry of Shining Day and Sweet Roberto completed the order. Heatseeker scratched.