04/22/2008 11:00PM

Good prep for Plate prospects

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Mike DePaulo's two Queen's Plate prospects, Deputiformer and Giquere, are among the eight 3-year-olds in the inaugural running of the $110,000 Wando Stakes at Woodbine on Friday.

DePaulo was looking for a two-turn stepping-stone toward the June 22 Plate, and the 1o1/16-mile Wando fit the bill. Both Deputiformer and Giquere wintered at the Palm Meadows training center in Florida, and ran once apiece at Gulfstream.

"Both are at about the same fitness level right now," said DePaulo. "Deputiformer has a little edge in that he's run more, and he's been a mile and an eighth. I'd like to get a good mile-and-a-sixteenth race into both of them, and then go from there."

Deputiformer won his maiden on turf in the Cup and Saucer Stakes. Returning from a four-month layoff in an allowance on March 5, he finished a well-beaten third behind Kentucky Derby favorite Big Brown.

"My horse ran okay," DePaulo said. "It was a good conditioning race. He breezed a little too fast the other day, but he's a tough, strong kind of horse. We're expecting him to run pretty good."

Giquere romped first time out in a six-furlong maiden special here Dec. 9. He was fourth in a March 20 allowance at Gulfstream, a somewhat disappointing effort.

"We didn't want him going to the lead and stopping," DePaulo said. "We wanted him to come from off [the pace], and that's what he did. They ran a very slow half-mile, and we were pretty much last. That didn't help us, but he galloped out well and got a lot out of it. I don't think he'll have any trouble getting a mile and a sixteenth."

Trainer Alec Fehr entered two Queen's Plate nominees who also spent the winter at Palm Meadows, Niagara Thunder and Tacito.

Niagara Thunder ran well twice on turf at Gulfstream, most notably when he won a nine-furlong maiden special with ease March 31. He finished second in Giquere's maiden win.

Discreet Commander and Mighty Vow finished first and third, respectively, while just a head apart, in the Nov. 24 Display Stakes. Both received a modest 62 Beyer on a Polytrack surface that was relatively slow because it was power-harrowed just before the race.