04/15/2003 11:00PM

It's Grieves vs. Grieves in sprint


CALGARY, Alberta - Bar None Ranches, the leading money-winning stable at this meet last year, will be represented by the formidable entry of Harbour Ice and Ledbury in the featured seventh race at Stampede Park on a Good Friday holiday card that begins at 1 p.m. Mountain.

Ron Grieves, who captured his first training title here last spring, will saddle Ledbury. His brother Kelly Grieves, in his first season as a full-fledged trainer after several seasons as an assistant and groom, will saddle the speedy Harbour Ice.

Harbour Ice drew post 2 and is expected to be the pacesetter in this field of eight older $28,000 claimers going six furlongs. Harbour Ice was claimed six times last year.

Ledbury, winner of six races last year, runs his best races from just off the pace. He is one of the leading candidates to be named claimer of the year here at Saturday's Night of Champions, honoring Alberta's champions of 2002.

Looking to upstage the entry will be Sweet Drummer, who hails from the high-percentage barn of trainer Floyd Arthur and has a start at the meet under his belt. Conditioning was a major handicapping factor last weekend when eight horses making their second start of the meet came back to win.

Fancy As returns a winner

Fancy As, Alberta's horse of the year and champion 3-year-old of 2001, made a triumphant return to the races here last Sunday afternoon but not before providing some anxious moments for trainer Red Smith, jockey Richard Hamel, and his supporters.

In his first outing since finishing seventh in the Santa Anita Handicap over a year ago, Fancy As trailed through the run down the backstretch in a six-furlong optional claiming race on a sloppy course. Fancy As was still last in the field of eight approaching the final turn.

Fancy As was forced extremely wide turning for home but a late surge propelled him to a 1 1/4-length victory over 58-1 Smooth Cruiser, who had led through an opening quarter-mile of 22.60 seconds and half-mile of 46.60.

Fancy As overcame a speed bias that had seen the first six winners on the card go wire to wire.

Hamel never used his whip and Fancy As completed the six furlongs in 1:13 with his ears pricked at the wire. Coupled with Intore in the wagering, he paid $3.40.

The win improved his lifetime record to 14-2-2 from 19 starts with his only unplaced effort coming in the $1 million Big Cap.

A champion here at 2 and 3, Fancy As has yet to lose in this province under Smith's management.

Following the victory, Smith said there were no definite future plans for Fancy As, but that a trip to Woodbine was a strong possibility.

"We didn't want to take him to Toronto and hook their good sprinters, but now we could go and run him a mile and up," said Smith, who was clearly relieved to get this comeback start out of the way.

Should Fancy As remain here, the May 3 Stampede Park Sprint Cham-pionship would be his next goal.