08/25/2003 12:00AM

Mobil works faster than stablemate Wando on turf

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Canadian Triple Crown winner Wando had his first work Sunday since capturing the Aug. 9 Breeders' Stakes. With Patrick Husbands up, Wando breezed five furlongs in 1:02 over a firm turf training course at Woodbine.

"It was just a little leg-stretcher," said trainer Mike Keogh. "He went nice and easy. He still has two more breezes to go before he runs back."

Wando's stablemate Mobil, who was second in the first leg of the Triple Crown, the Queen's Plate, also drilled five furlongs over the turf, going in 59.80 seconds under Todd Kabel.

"He worked awesome," said Keogh. "I caught him galloping out three-quarters in 1:12 and change."

Wando is slated to make his next start here on the grass Sept. 14, in the Grade 1 Atto Mile. Mobil is headed for Monday's $125,000 Halton Stakes, a nine-furlong turf race for graduates of local yearling sales.

Husbands mounts a charge

The battle for leading rider at Woodbine this year, between Kabel and Husbands, promises to be a memorable one, which could go right down to the wire.

With a little more than three months left in the meeting, Kabel holds a slim 93-89 lead over Husbands, who has won the riding title three of the last four years. Kabel has had more mounts - 459 to Husbands's 452 - but that could change soon, as Husbands picks up the slack after taking it a little easy during his Triple Crown run aboard Wando.

Husbands said his main goal is to win the riding title again, and he believes the objective is realistic.

"I'm going for it," Husbands said. "I had my ups and downs going into the Triple Crown. When I began to ride Wando, I told my agent that I only wanted to ride three or four a day. Now that the Triple Crown is over with, I'm back to riding seven or eight a day. I'm looking forward to the rest of the season, and my mind is focused on the championship. It would be a great feeling to win it."

Husbands had a productive last week. He swept the first three races on Friday, and won the Shepperton Stakes on Saturday aboard Forever Grand, a horse Kabel abandoned for Battlements.

Kabel, who narrowly won the title over Husbands in 2001, said he is confident that he can maintain his lead.

"I think I have a great shot," Kabel said. "I've had a change of attitude and lifestyle this year. I'm not missing work - I'm devoted to it. A lot of people lost their faith in me because I was booking off so often, and it's taken a while to get some of my clientele back. Now, I've regained it, and I'm showing that I want to ride."

Kabel, who has a meet-leading 20 stakes victories, said he is keen on breaking the Ontario record of 32, set by Avelino Gomez in 1966. His mounts have banked slightly more than $6.7 million at the meeting, and he believes that he is on target to crack the $10 million mark.

Tiller banking on his 2-year-olds

Bob Tiller, who sent out Forever Grand to take the Shepperton, holds a commanding lead in the trainer standings, having won with 47 of 166 starters. Abraham Katryan is second with 32 wins, while Mark Casse and Scott Fairlie are tied with 31 each.

Tiller said the training title, which he won in 2001, should be within his grasp if his 2-year-olds continue to score on a regular basis.

"The reason I haven't claimed any horses is because I have so many young horses," Tiller explained. "A few of my young horses are now starting to win races, and they're going to have to carry me the rest of the year. We're having a decent year, and I can't complain. Some horses have disappointed us, but others have picked up the slack. Some of my horses have run out of conditions. The bottom line is the numbers could get me in trouble later on."

Tiller said he has lost 17 runners this year via the claiming box, and hasn't claimed any back. "The score is 17-0, and that's got to hurt," he said.

* Phil Werkmeister earned first prize of $23,062 in the annual Woodbine Handicapping Challenge last weekend. Stephen Diaz finished second in the two-day event, while Jack Mahdessian and Steve Meyer rounded out the top four finishers, all of whom qualified for the Daily Racing Form/NTRA Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas.

* Rosharon and Luvgetsmeeverytime head Wednesday's featured second race, a one-mile turf allowance for Ontario-sired fillies and mares. Stakes-placed Bold Artic Ice should be well backed in the other grass race on the card, a seven-furlong maiden special weight race.