03/28/2003 12:00AM

Wando back after time on the farm


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Wando, one of Canada's top 2-year-olds in 2002 and the Queen's Plate winter-book favorite, launches his 3-year-old campaign on Sunday when he takes on five Canadian-bred 3-year-olds in the $161,100 Achievement Handicap at Woodbine.

Wando, a muscular son of Metropolitan Handicap winner Langfuhr and Monmouth Oaks winner Kathie's Colleen, had a brilliant 2-year-old campaign under the guidance of trainer Mike Keogh.

He won his first two starts, one of which was the Vandal Stakes, with ease, before losing a nail-biter on turf in the Grade 2 Summer Stakes. He then blew away the highly regarded Gigawatt in the country's most important juvenile race, the Grade 2 Grey BC Stakes.

Wando was saddled with post 12 in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Arlington, and was hustled into a wide stalking position by his jockey, Richard Migliore, before fading over a track favoring inside speed. Breaking from post 13, Toccet showed nothing in the same race, but he came back to win three consecutive major stakes.

Keogh said he believes Wando's Breeders' Cup effort is a throwout.

"I didn't think we had a prayer when I saw where the start of the race was," Keogh said. When the trainer conferred with Migliore shortly before the race, the two decided "the only thing we could do was get him out of there. It was a frustrating experience. We took him out of his game."

Owner Gustav Schickedanz originally wanted Wando to spend the winter at Gulfstream, but Keogh said he convinced Schickedanz to let him freshen the colt at Schickedanz's South Carolina farm instead.

"He was turned out for six weeks," Keogh said. "He never saw the tack. We started him back up again in January."

Keogh said he is unsure of Wando's current fitness level.

"Coming off the farm, I'm always concerned," Keogh said. "We have a five-eighths of a mile straightaway up a hill at the farm, and trying to get them ready there is a little different. He's been galloping out well in his [Woodbine] works, and he had a few starts last year, which never hurts."

Todd Kabel has the call on Wando, the 122-pound highweight.

Rounding out the field for the six-furlong race will be Sonofawac, Shipman, Majestic Wisdom, Bert's Bar, and Biddy's Lad.

Shipman, victorious in a five-furlong allowance on opening day, could be the main threat, even though trainer Mike DePaulo said he is leery about running him back in eight days.

"I'm hoping that he doesn't bounce off the face of the earth," DePaulo said jokingly. "It's a small field with a big pot, and we're getting weight from Wando, who hasn't run in a while."

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