08/03/2001 11:00PM

Fancy As, 'Shuffle' meet in derby

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WINNIPEG, Manitoba - Fancy As, based in Alberta, will be going for his 11th consecutive win, while Corporate Shuffle will be trying for his eighth win at Assiniboia Downs in as many starts here in Monday's $100,000 Manitoba Derby.

But Ontario invader Stage Classic could spoil the party for his Western Canada counterparts in the Grade 3, 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds.

When Fancy As and Corporate Shuffle met here last July in the Graduation, both had defeated maiden special weight fields in their debuts - Fancy As at Stampede Park and Corporate Shuffle here.

Corporate Shuffle had little trouble disposing of Fancy As that day and went on to win four more races, including the Winnipeg Futurity, en route to taking the top local 2-year-old award as well as Manitoba horse of the year honors.

Fancy As also progressed nicely, winning four stakes, including the Buffalo here and the Juvenile at Northlands Park, on his way to being named Alberta's top 2-year-old.

Corporate Shuffle suffered the only blemishes on his record in two starts south of the border this year. His most recent effort was a win here July 15 in the 1 1/16-mile Derby Trial.

Fancy As has gone 5 for 5 this year, all in Alberta, including a win in Stampede Park's Alberta Derby. In his last start, at Northlands Park on July 14, Fancy As was all out to run down Sixthirtyjoe in the Ky Alta.

Corporate Shuffle still is the only horse to beat Fancy As to the wire.

Trainer Darla Singh will give her husband, Rohan Singh, a leg up on Corporate Shuffle.

Corporate Shuffle is owned by Phil Kives's K-5 Stable. On Monday, Kives goes for his third Manitoba Derby victory. Kives won Manitoba's premier race in 1991 with Plenty Chilly and in 1996 with Northernprospector.

Richard Hamel, who has been aboard for all five of Fancy As's wins this year, retains the mount for trainer Red Smith.

Stage Classic is owned Dave Cotey's Dominion Bloodstock in partnership with Derek Ball and Hugh Galbraith. The same owners won the 1999 Manitoba Derby with Woodbine shipper Wafare Warrior.

Trained by Cotey, Stage Classic has done his best running on the turf, and his most recent effort July 14 was a second-place finish behind Strut the Stage in the Toronto Cup at Woodbine.

The only horse in the field to try Monday's nine-furlong distance, Stage Classic probably will be closest to likely leader Corporate Shuffle in the early stages.

Constant Montpellier, who has been aboard Stage Classic for all of his races, will fly in from Toronto for the mount.

Rounding out the field are G and L Special and Command Start, both of whom are based here.

G and L Special won the restricted Manitoba Stakes two starts ago at a mike and then finished a closing second in the 1 1/16-mile Derby Trial.

The first Manitoba Derby entrant for trainer Don Korchinski and first Manitoba Derby mount for Sean Deveaux, G and L Special has relished the distance of his last two starts and should have no trouble with Monday's trip.

Trainer Patti Ross claimed Command Start for the Bullets Buried Stable three starts ago. He finished second, a head behind G and L Special in the Manitoba stakes, and most recently defeated a maiden special weight field. Alan Cuthbertson will ride.

Smith loaded for bear

On Monday, Canterbury Park-based trainer Bill Smith saddles Sassy Chimes, Beef'n Brew, and Crooner Slew, the probable favorites in three supporting stakes here Monday.

Sassy Chimes goes for her third consecutive win at Assiniboia Downs in the $27,500 Jack Hardy at one mile. Love Play, winner of her last three starts at Fort Erie for the Stronach Stable, is her main competition in the field of five.

Beef'n Brew, who goes in the $27,500 Osiris Plate at six furlongs, woke up with the addition of Lasix in his last start, winning a maiden special weight race by five lengths.

Sands Fury, who goes for her third consecutive win, and Ness Gadoll, a winner of his only start, have the best chance to upset.

Crooner Slew ran the fastest six furlongs in the past three years at Canterbury in his last start and is 2 for 3 at the one-mile distance of the Wheat City.

Kalfaari, who may be a clean trip away from his first stakes win, and local favorite Smoky Cinder should furnish the main opposition in the eight-horse Wheat City field.