10/11/2001 11:00PM

Fancy As chance for rare double


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - It has been 15 years since Irish Bear accomplished the rare feat of winning both the B.C. Derby and Premier's in the same season. Despite the difficulty of winning both races, Fancy As figures to be a heavy favorite when he takes on older rivals in Sunday's Grade 3 $100,000 Premier's at Hastings Park. Six others have entered the 1 3/8-mile feature, but if Fancy As runs his race, they are probably running for second money.

It's reasonable to assume that Fancy As will run his race. He has given his best in every one of his 14 starts, winning 12 times and finishing second twice for earnings of $488,720. With his win in the 1 3/8-mile Canadian Derby he proved himself at the distance. And, in an impressive 3 1/2-length win in the B.C. Derby on Sept. 29, he showed an affinity for the Hastings Park oval. "Nothing's changed since his last race," said his trainer and part owner, Red Smith. "I left him here and he's trained beautifully."

According to Smith, the late developing 4-year-old colt Rancour is the one to beat. Smith trained him until June 2 when he was claimed by trainer Ernie Keller for $25,000 on behalf of the Richmond Stable. He looked like an ordinary horse going into the Westerner Handicap at Northlands Park on Aug. 25 and was sent off at 19-1. But after his 7 1/2-length win in the Westerner and his 2 3/4-length victory in the Grade 3, 1 3/8-mile Speed to Spare, he looks like a serious contender Sunday.

Older horses will carry 124 pounds and 3-year-olds 121 pounds.