01/11/2006 1:00AM

'Time' yet to slow down

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - When line up beside each other in posts 1 and 2 for Friday's Bay Meadows feature, it will be a case of been-there-done-that versus look-out-world-here-I-come.

Sands of Time seems the one to beat in the field of 10 older runners going one mile on the turf in a first-level allowance race. He has more victories (12) than Now Victory has starts (9).

Sands of Time has been a claimer most of his career, but the 7-year-old gelding has never been better. Moved up to the allowance level by trainer Bill Delia, he has a pair of seconds and a third in four tries.

Delia, who claimed the old-timer for $6,250 in 2003, wants to keep him in claim-proof races "for right now."

Sands of Time was gone for nearly 10 months with a hairline fracture of a sesamoid, but he went 11-4-2-1 while earning $55,100 after his return last year.

"He's a tough old horse," Delia said. "He fires every time."

Now Victory has turned in a pair of strong efforts since coming north last fall.

The 5-year-old Now Victory didn't debut until last year, and had a pair of wins and a third in nine starts. His third-place finish and one of his victories came in two starts at Golden Gate Fields.

He and Sands of Time both last ran on Dec. 11. Now Victory won a $40,000 starter allowance, earning an 84 Beyer Speed Figure, while Sands of Time was second in a first-level allowance three races later and earned an 86 Beyer.

Trainer Dean Pederson said he hopes Now Victory may be maturing a bit.

"He's very big and very aggressive," Pederson said. "We're trying to get him relaxed."

Now Victory's first work when he arrived in Pederson's barn from Southern California was a blazing 1:10.80 bullet drill at six furlongs. He has worked three times since his last start, including a 1:12.40 six-furlong bullet that encouraged Pederson, because Now Victory did relax a bit during the work.

San Fran, who chased Sands of Time in his first start in three months, should be improved, and Sir Toasty steps up off a victory in a $25,000 claimer.