01/14/2008 1:00AM

Trainer profile: Dean Pederson

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The last thing you'll ever hear from Dean Pederson is a boast.

What you will hear is how good owners like Don Rego, Rudy LaPera, Rod Cockrum, and Kerry Lawson are.

You'll hear how working for Greg Gilchrist and Terry Knight, who gave Pederson his first jobs, were like being educated at Yale and Harvard.

"I was fortunate to work for two guys who know how to run a barn," he said. "Working with people like that rubs off on you and installs a winning attitude in you."

You'll hear how valuable longtime foreman Jose Alvarado and gallop boy Gregorio Arriaga are in the development of barn star Now Victory.

You'll hear about how important his family is to him.

You won't hear that Pederson is coming off the best year of his 17-year training career, with a 30-percent winning rate and 65 percent in-the-money finishes.

Pederson even credits his rivals on the Northern California racing circuit to explain his success.

"I think our strengths are we try to be realistic, and we try to be competitive," he said.

Peterson called the local scene "a tough game" citing the competitions of trainers Jerry Hollendorfer, Steve Miyadi, John Martin, Gilchrist and Billy Morey.

"If you want to be successful," he said, "they keep you sharp."

Pederson has been a high-percentage trainer throughout his career, winning at a 21-percent clip. But he also takes pride in the fact that more than half the 1,911 horses he had started as of Jan. 13 finished first, second or third (52 percent).

"It's a goal of mine to win 20 percent, and we've been very fortunate never to have that down year," he said. "The in-the-money percentage signifies consistency, and I take as much satisfaction from my in-the-money percentage as my win percentage."

But Pederson knows that win percentage doesn't tell the whole story.

"There's so much out there about your win percentage, and some people characterize whether you're good or bad by your win percentage, and that's not fair," he said.

A son of former jockey and racing official Gene Pederson, Dean Pederson works hard and has a plan for every horse, but he concedes, "There's something to be said of the fear of failure."

He does particularly well with new faces whether off a claim (41 percent) or barn switch (42 percent), and he has a high $5.11 return on investment in the second start off a claim, while winning at 36 percent.

"We cover the basics," he said of his approach with new arrivals, worming them and checking their teeth.

His realistic approach helps him decide where to run new horses.

"You try to put horses in a position to succeed," he said. "You hope they handle changes in their program and move forward."

One horse who has moved forward for Pederson is Now Victory, being pointed to the Sunshine Millions after winning the Forty Niner Stakes at Golden Gate Fields on Dec. 26.

High-strung and something of a head case, Now Victory has responded to Pederson's patient handling - "He trusts people now" - and is approaching a half-million dollars in earnings.

Although the 7-year-old gelding and the 30-percent win percentage have put Pederson in the spotlight, he said, "Has it brought me a bunch of business? No, but that's the world we live in."

That's fine with him.

He is concerned about developing horses properly, knowing that doing things the right way are important in the long run. He thinks back to his mentors Gilchrist and Knight.

"I hope they look back and say, 'He turned out to be a pretty good horseman,' " he said.