07/11/2004 11:00PM

Fancy As runs eighth in return

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EDMONTON, Alberta - Red Smith's shed row wasn't as joyful as you would expect last Saturday after Deputy Country went wire to wire here, winning the Spangled Jimmy Handicap. After all, uncoupled stablemate Fancy As went down to a crushing defeat in his first loss on an Alberta track.

Much had been made of Fancy As's battle back from near death after a digestive problem that required three surgeries. The public sent him off as the 8-5 favorite in a field of l0. But after a three-year history of 12 consecutive victories in Alberta, the string ran out for 6-year-old Fancy As. He made a mild move in the backstretch while running fifth, only to flatten out and finish a fading eighth.

Ontario-bred Deputy Country paid $12.10 when he won his third stakes race in his last four appearances. Still, he doesn't receive much respect from bettors, as he launched the Northlands season by winning the Journal after winning at 30-1 in the Teeworth Plate at Stampede Park.

Deputy Country rocketed away from the starting gate and quickly assumed a clear lead under Leanne Painter, who gained the mount when Richard Hamel opted to ride Fancy As. He rattled off fractions of 23.20 seconds, 47.20, and 1:12.20 en route to a mile in 1:39.40 on a "good" track that was still recovering from week-long rains. He won by 1 1/2 lengths over Rindanica, who has been runner-up in five consecutive stakes. Sixthirtyjoe was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third.

Meanwhile, Hamel said he thought that Fancy As found the track a little cuppy, and maybe he didn't like it. "But you haven't heard the last of him," Hamel added.