Now a Victor stalked the pace under John Velazquez, and then wore down longtime leader Shopton Lane in the final furlong to take the $100,000 Discovery Handicap (gr. III) (VIDEO) by 1 1/4-lengths on the main track at Aqueduct Nov. 24.
The least-experienced runner in the seven-horse field, Now a Victor won for third time in four career starts. The Yankee Victor colt is just a neck away from being undefeated, with a narrow loss in the Pegasus Stakes (gr. III) Oct. 27 in the slop at Monmouth Park.
The 3-year-old colt trained by Michael Trombetta won the same way he did when topping maiden and allowance competition this summer in New York, staying just behind the leader until mid-stretch. With long, powerful strides, he pulled away from pacesetter Shopton Lane, who entered the Discovery four-for-four in 2007 but was trying stakes competition for the first time.
Velazquez, riding Now a Victor for the first time, won the fourth Discovery title of his career.
“He’s very nice,” Velazquez said. “He’s a little immature, but he’s a big, beautiful horse. This is his second start going two turns and he handled it very well.”
Florida-bred Shopton Lane, ridden by Chuck Lopez, was able to take the lead with modest early fractions, posting 25.08 for the first quarter-mile and 49.11 for a half-mile. Still with the lead entering the top of the stretch, Shopton Lane began to feel the heat from Dr. V’s Magic on the rail and Now a Victor on the outside. But Dr. V’s Magic was unable to find room against the fence and was steadied, leaving Shopton Lane and Now a Victor to battle it out.
Now a Victor was able to forge ahead in mid-stretch, driving determinedly to the wire with urging from Velazquez.
“I didn’t get him until this summer,” Trombetta said. “He might have had some minor injuries—or he was just so big, they gave him so time. He is as nice looking a horse as you might want to have. He is still learning. He has gotten to this point pretty quick; from a maiden special at Saratoga to winning a grade III race in a handful of starts. This is only his second start going two turns. I don’t know whether he will go to Florida or stay here.”
Out of the Copelan mare Try a Gator Girl, Now a Victor was bred in Kentucky by Brereton Jones. Going off as the 9-5 favorite, he paid $5.90 to win. The exacta (7-1) was worth $39.80. Dr. V’s Magic held third by 1 3/4 lengths over Notice Me Now, filling out a $163.50 trifecta (7-1-5).
Now a Victor is owned by Three Diamonds Farm, Robert Veratti, and Joe Besecker. The final time for 1 1/8 miles was 1:50.15.