Updated on 09/15/2011 2:07PM

Fancy As tops BC Derby


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Fancy As heads one of the deepest fields in recent years in the Grade 2 $200,000 British Columbia Derby on Saturday at Hastings Park. A full field of 12 3-year-olds is entered in the 1 1/8-mile race. But Fancy As, I'm Free, Diglett, and Stage Classic will attract most of the attention, and a strong case can be made for each of them.

Fancy As has won 11 of his 13 career starts and is the top money earner in the race with earnings of $368,720. He usually comes from slightly off of the pace, and there should be plenty of speed to set up his good late move in Saturday's race. Fancy As took advantage of a quick pace to win the 1 3/8-mile Canadian Derby in his previous start, but he couldn't get by Stage Classic when Stage Classic set moderate fractions in the Manitoba Derby.

Stage Classic was stakes-placed on the turf before heading west and holding off Fancy As to win the Manitoba Derby. His second-place finish in the Canadian Derby was better than it looks on paper.

"He was a bit rank and everybody kept taking shots at him," said his trainer, Dave Cotey. "I thought he was going to finish a distant third but he dug in and only got beat a length."

I'm Free and Diglett head the local contingent. I'm Free won four straight stakes at Hastings Park before shipping to Emerald and finishing a close second in the Emerald Downs Breeders' Cup Derby. Diglett won the Washington Owners Breeders' Cup at Emerald by over six lengths but finished a disappointing fourth as the favorite in the Emerald Derby.