07/17/2001 11:00PM

'Prancer' a traveling terror

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DEL MAR, Calif. - It already has been a long, winding road for Fancy Prancer, a gangly 2-year-old filly who ships in to Del Mar for Friday's $125,000 California Thoroughbred Breeders Association Stakes. A field of nine Cal-bred fillies entered the 5 1/2-furlong stakes, none with the brilliance of Fancy Prancer.

Bred in California and purchased at a yearling sale in Arizona, Fancy Prancer made her debut in Minnesota on June 15, winning a Canterbury Downs maiden race by more than 10 lengths. The victory did not surprise trainer Greg Tracy and owner Stanley Ryan. "From the word go, she was fast and did everything right," said Tracy.

The win earned a 69 Beyer Speed Figure, hardly the stuff of which championships are born. But when Fancy Prancer shipped to Iowa and won the $50,000 Prairie Gold Lassie at Prairie Meadows two weeks later, she served notice she was something special. "It was the fastest 2-year-old race ever run in Iowa [five furlongs in 57.18 seconds], and [jockey Ken Shino] never let her run," Tracy said. "She was in the turn with a bow in her neck, then just opened up."

Left in Fancy Prancer's dust were Devil's Rush, who had crushed maidens by more than nine lengths in her debut, and Don't Countess Out, who had won her debut by 3 1/2. Fancy Prancer made them look silly, while hardly trying.

"We don't know how good she is; she's been on the lead with her necked bowed both times," Tracy said. "And she's so easy on herself, she just floats."

Tracy, 39, is based at Canterbury, while owner Ryan is a North Dakota apartment-complex developer who will fly in for the stakes. If Fancy Prancer runs well, she will remain at Del Mar. Said Tracy: "Right now, she doesn't have a plane ticket back."

Gary Stevens has the call on Fancy Prancer, a Bertrando filly bred by Martin and Pam Wygod. Based on her physique - the lanky filly stands more than 16 hands - further improvement is expected when she stretches out to two turns.

A win on Friday would come at the expense of stakes-winning speedball Britetonzmyday, trained by Wesley Ward, and the Cliff Sise entry of Whitewinesipper, a romping maiden winner, and stakes-placed Asian Adventure.

Sise entered Del Mar with a tired stable last year, and started only nine runners following an all-out assault on Hollywood Park. This season, it's a different story. Sise expects to start 30 to 40 runners.

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