08/09/2007 12:00AM

Crane entry can be beat


The Clovis Crane-trained, Willowdale Farms entry of Eagle Spread and Fancy Dan looms large but not invincible in the $45,000 Robert Leavitt Memorial for 3-year-old West Virginia-breds on Saturday at Charles Town.

Eagle Speed is one of only two three-time winners in the 10-horse field, and his rider, Kendrick Carmouche, is winning at a sizzling 34-percent clip this meet (33 winners, 96 mounts).

Fancy Dan owns the race's second-best last-out Beyer Speed Figure, has a hot rider in Thomas Clifton, and a win last out on July 14.

Like his two riders in the race, Crane is a force at the meet, with 8 winners, 3 seconds, and 3 thirds from just 24 starters.

The problem is that Eagle Speed stalks and Fancy Dan closes from far back, and their top rival - Western Skyline - has speed.

Western Skyline has run just twice, winning a statebred maiden special in June, then rising two levels in class and leading every step but the last, finishing third, beaten a head. That race was at 6 1/2 furlongs and Saturday's is a half-furlong farther.

Blues in the Night is the race's other three-time winner, owns the top last-out Beyer (71), and worked a bullet four furlongs in 46.80 seconds over the track last Saturday. But the 71 Beyer is his best by far, and with Saturday's race being his 10th start, he may not have much improvement left in him.

Excommunicated has just 2 wins in 12 starts and lost as the favorite last out to Fancy Dan. But he has run two or three races fast enough to win.

Illigetimate is the speed of the speed and dangerous if left loose on the lead.