06/17/2001 11:00PM

Fancy As no surprise in Alberta

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CALGARY, Alberta - Fancy As did the expected last Saturday in capturing Stampede Park's $100,000 Alberta Derby as the 1-2 favorite. He unleashed his patented stretch drive under Richard Hamel for a two-length victory over Baie Comeau.

Fancy As covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:46 and earned $63,000 for owners Linda and Red Smith, boosting his career bankroll to $263,632. The victory in the Grade 3 race was the eighth straight and ninth from 10 starts for Fancy As, a gelded son of Dignitas.

Hamel placed Fancy As in fourth spot during the early stages of the Alberta Derby, which was contested over a muddy surface.

"My horse did not care for the going but he's got a lot of class and ran through it," Hamel said. "He's the best horse I've been on."

Hamel had to await the deliberations of the stewards after Rory Noel, who was forced to check at the quarter pole aboard Baie Comeau, lodged a claim of foul that was disallowed.

"He's one of the very best I've trained," said Smith, who won his fifth Alberta Derby.

Sixthirtyjoe finished a half-length back of Baie Comeau in third.