04/14/2002 11:00PM

Fancy As: Alberta's Horse of Year

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CALGARY, Alberta - Alberta crowned its 2001 champions at Stampede Park Saturday, with trainer R.K. "Red" Smith there to accept the Horse of the Year award for Fancy As, who captured the imagination of Western Canada fans with eight victories and $431,941 in earnings in a memorable 3-year-old campaign.

Fancy As, a unanimous selection for the horse of the year, also was named winner of the 3-year-old male division. Smith took home a third trophy, as leading trainer.

Voters were also in complete agreement on Dance Me Free, 2-year-old male; Brass to Diamonds, 2-year-old filly; Northern Neechitoo, older female; and Timely Ruckus, who won an unprecedented fourth straight sprinter title.

Little Lolitta, 3-year-filly, and Rancour, older male, both came within a vote of sweeping their divisions.

The champion claimer title went to C D Ruckus, who defeated Viva Ruckus in a category that is traditionally hotly contested.

In close balloting for champion Alberta-bred, Little Lolitta beat out Northern Neechitoo.

Leanne Painter won the apprentice rider award, Perry Winters, the champion jockey trophy.

Gordon Wilson, whose Scotman was Alberta's 2000 horse of the year, was named horseperson of the year.