04/22/2003 11:00PM

It's Keogh's job to keep Wando and Mobil apart


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Mike Keogh's plan has been to keep Wando and Mobil apart for as long as possible on the road to the $1 million Queen's Plate at Woodbine on June 22.

That's why Wando was back in action winning last Saturday's six-furlong Woodstock, after opening up his campaign with a second-place finish over the same distance in the March 30 Achievement.

Mobil, meanwhile, was nominated to both the Achievement and the Woodstock but is pointing for the $150,000 Queenston, a seven-furlong race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds here May 3.

"If I didn't have Mobil, I wouldn't have run Wando in the Woodstock," said Keogh, who trains the two homebred sons of Langfuhr for Gustav Schickedanz.

"I will run Mobil in the Queenston, but I'm probably going to the Marine with Wando."

The Grade 2 Marine, an open 1 1/16-mile race here May 17, will be followed by the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds here May 31.

"I will see how Mobil runs in the Queenston," said Keogh, "then I will either go to the Marine or Plate Trial with him. Ideally, I would like to run him just like I did Woodcarver."

Woodcarver opened up his 1999 campaign with a very impressive victory in the Queenston and then finished a moderate fifth in the Marine and a close second in the Trial prior to giving Keogh and Schickedanz their first Queen's Plate victory.

Despite Wando's head start this spring, Keogh still considers Mobil to have the better shot at the 1 1/4-mile Plate.

"I think Mobil's a definite mile and a quarter horse," said Keogh. "I think he will go all day."

Mobil certainly showed enough stamina here at 2, winning the Cup and Saucer over 1 1/16 miles on yielding turf and finishing in a dead heat for first in the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity, only to be disqualified and placed second.

Wando, however, also was effective around two turns here last fall, taking the Grade 2 Grey over 1 1/16 miles.

"He won the Grey very impressively," said Keogh. "I could be dead wrong, but I don't think he's a mile and a quarter horse."

What's next for Deputy Cures Blues?

Deputy Cures Blues took a step toward her major target, the June 8 Labatt Woodbine Oaks, by notching her first stakes victory here in last Sunday's seven-furlong Lady Angela.

Deputy Cures Blues finished second in three consecutive stakes to end her five-start juvenile campaign last year. She was trained by Tino Attard last year, but was sent out Sunday by Scotty McCulloch, who took over as private trainer for owner Herbert Chambers this winter.

Deputy Cures Blues had finished fourth in her 2003 bow in the six-furlong Star Shoot, an open race for 3-year-old fillies.

"I think she got a lot out of that first race," said McCulloch. "She had never run that fast before. She was pressing the pace the whole way, and got a bit tired."

The conditioning and the less demanding Ontario-sired opposition were enough to get Deputy Cures Blues home first in the Lady Angela, but not without giving her connections a scare. Deputy Cures Blues opened up into the stretch and then just held off the late rush of Stop Looking.

"She might have got a tad tired the last little bit," said McCulloch. "I think she should improve off that race. She's a very nice, honest filly."

Deputy Cures Blues is nominated to the $150,000 Fury, a seven-furlong race for Canadian-bred fillies here May 4 which is the penultimate stakes prep for the $500,000 Labatt Woodbine Oaks.

McCulloch also plans to nominate Deputy Cures Blues to the $250,000 Selene, a 1 1/16-mile race here May 19 which is the final major tune-up for the 1 1/8-mile Oaks, and notes that the filly still is eligible for a three-other-than allowance.

"I would really like to get a mile and a sixteenth into her before the Oaks," said McCulloch. "But the Selene is a Grade 1, open race and you might get beat up too much to recuperate in time for the Oaks. If nothing turns up, we might have to go to the Fury."

While Deputy Cures Blues is proven at 1 1/16 miles, and McCulloch is confident that she will handle the Oaks distance, the trainer has another concern.

Deputy Cures Blues had raced with blinkers for the first time in her last start of 2002, and McCulloch had left the equipment intact for her sprints this spring.

"I really want to take the blinkers off her going two turns," he said. "I only put them on to put speed into her. Now I would like to take the speed away from her, let her relax."

The last word will go to the stewards, who must approve all equipment changes. While blinker changes generally are not allowed following a win, there is no rule to that effect.