06/14/2001 11:00PM

Fancy As looks tough in Alberta Derby

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CALGARY, Alberta - Fancy As seeks his eighth consecutive victory when he faces four rivals in Saturday's Grade 3 Alberta Derby.

A Manitoba-bred gelding, Fancy As won his last four starts last year on his way to an Alberta championship and has dominated the local 3-year-olds this spring in three preps on his march toward the $100,000 Alberta Derby.

The Derby has been the goal of trainer R.K. "Red" Smith from the first day of training, and Fancy As comes into the 1 1/16-mile race at the top of his game.

Fancy As conceded weight to his rivals in his two recent stakes victories and will be a solid favorite while competing at 121 pounds.

Richard Hamel has yet to uncork his whip this spring while riding Fancy As, who will be racing on Lasix for the first time Saturday and has drawn post 1.

Sixthirtyjoe, a lightly raced Alberta-bred, was impressive winning his first two career starts here this spring and tested Fancy As when he took the lead in the one-mile Hoofprint on My Heart on May 27.

Fancy As ran down Sixthirtyjoe in that race under a vigorous hand ride to win by 1 1/4 lengths, but that was the first attempt at a mile for Sixthirtyjoe and he may improve off the effort. Sixthirtyjoe, owned and trained by Deanne Davies, starts from post 4 under returning rider Renaldo Cumberbatch.

Navigator's Castle, a Kentucky-bred son of Peteski, arrives from the West Coast with credentials. Navigator's Castle is coming off two sharp one-mile races at Bay Meadows and should run on the lead here after breaking from the outside. Vancouver-based trainer Steve Bryant is bringing along rider Brian Johnson.