08/30/2001 11:00PM

Smith may prep 'Fancy'


EDMONTON, Alberta - Trainer Red Smith finds himself faced with a problem on how to fill in the time for his brilliant Fancy As between the Canadian Derby of Aug. 25 and the B.C. Derby on Sept. 29.

That's a span of five weeks, and there obviously is a need to keep Fancy As sharp for the next big race.

Tentatively, Smith has nominated Fancy As for this Saturday's $100,000 Speed to Spare Championship at Northlands Park.

That Grade 3 race goes here at the same 1 3/8-mile distance as the Canadian Derby, where Fancy As stalked eastern invader Stage Classic and wore him down for a length victory.

"But I really don't know whether I should throw him in against the lions [older horses] just yet," Smith said. "The sweet thing is that he is so easy to train, and he came out of the Derby so good."

The Canadian Derby victory boosted Fancy As's seasonal earnings to $251,941 and his overall bankroll to $368,720, not bad for a Manitoba-bred gelding whom Smith bought for $3,200.

Smith gives the credit to his wife, Linda, for selecting the horse at the Manitoba sale. There was one stall open on the trailer he was hauling back to Edmonton, and Fancy As was her choice to fill it.

Fancy As is among 10 nominees for the Speed to Spare and is the only 3-year-old.

The others nominees are Rancour, who sprang a dramatic upset in the Westerner here Derby day; Vancouver invader Imprimature, trained by Kelly Rycroft; Alberta's 2000 champion older horse Code Name Fred, who spurned the Westerner because of the weights, plus South Side, Scotman, Gray Aras, Run Joey Run, First Vintage, and Red Exit. Older horses all carry 126 pounds, and Fancy As would receive a six-pound concession.