07/20/2003 11:00PM

Wando cements star status with win


WOODBINE, Ontario - Any who may have doubted that a star had been born here in the Queen's Plate need only to have witnessed Wando run this past Sunday at Fort Erie, where he put on a one-horse show in the Prince of Wales Stakes.

Wando certainly had the looks, and had displayed the talent, but at Fort Erie Wando showed he truly had achieved that elusive and indefinable star quality.

The people who lined the walking ring, in the rain, were there to see Wando, who appropriately enough was saddled in the great outdoors while his six rivals were prepared in the relative anonymity of the paddock.

"He saddles outside all the time," said Mike Keogh, who trains Wando for owner/breeder Gustav Schickedanz. "Before he even ran his first start, we'd schooled him in the paddock and he didn't like it in there.

"So we took him out in the walking ring, and got permission to saddle him out there."

Wando, on form and in the flesh, seemed to tower over his rivals. But the colt was facing a new challenge: a muddy racetrack.

Keogh, who spent the early hours of the afternoon with Wando on the backstretch, had taken note of the increasing rain and decided to add mud stickers to the colt's footwear.

"After the sixth race, I walked out onto the track, and decided to put them on," said the trainer. "I don't know if it was significant, but it makes me feel better to have them."

Then it was showtime, and Wando went out and did the rest while replicating his front-running Queen's Plate win.

Shoal Water tried valiantly to make a race of it, but Wando was just too much.

By the time Wando had straightened away in the stretch, the race effectively was over. Jockey Patrick Husbands never so much as cocked his whip as horse and rider, moving fluidly in tandem, flashed across the finish line without a hint of exertion.

Although his margin of victory was four lengths, as opposed to nine in the Plate, it could be argued that his Prince of Wales win was the easier of the two.

"He certainly did it just as easy," said Keogh. "But, I thought he was really impressive in the Plate."

Wando's Beyer Speed Figure for the race 101, 10 points fewer then the 111 he earned in the Plate.

Canadian Triple Crown on the line

All eyes will remain on Wando leading up to the Breeders' Stakes here Aug. 9, when he will attempt to become the seventh Canadian Triple Crown winner.

The Breeders', a 1 1/2-mile turf race, was the stumbling block for five others who had won the Queen's Plate and Prince of Wales.

While the distance question is legitimate. Keogh has no worries about Wando handling turf. The colt raced on the grass in the third start of his career here last fall, missing by a head as the runner-up in the Grade 2 Summer.

Lismore Knight, the turf specialist who won that one-mile race, has added the Grade 2 Arlington Classic to his portfolio this year.

Mobil now needs another spot

Wando's success will force Keogh and Schickedanz to seek a suitable spot for his talented stablemate Mobil, who would have been a prime candidate for the Breeders' under other circumstances.

Mobil came out of his second-place finish in the Plate to score gamely in the Toronto Cup, a 1 1/8-mile turf race here July 12.

The colt was invited to the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell, a 1 1/8-mile race at Monmouth Aug. 3, but is not scheduled to participate.

Shoal Water to face Wando again

Mark Frostad, who trains Shoal Water for Sam-Son Farm, plans to take another crack at Wando in the Breeders'.

Shoal Water, who finished fourth in just his second start of the year in the Queen's Plate, did not help his chances Sunday by taking on Wando early and as a result finished third. But Frostad is not second-guessing the strategy.

"If we'd played it safe, and taken him five lengths back, he'd probably have been second," said Frostad. "But, we decided to take the shot, and he ran well."

Shoal Water also showed promise here in his only turf outing at 2, the Cup and Saucer over 1 1/16 miles of yielding going. In that race, his career debut, he finished second to Mobil by a half-length.

"We know he's better on turf," said Frostad. "He'll be back in the Breeders'; that will suit him a bit better."

Frostad, who has saddled three Breeders' winners, and Sam-Son, with five previous winners of the race, also should be represented this year by the promising pair of Parasail and Colorful Judgement.

Soaring Free eyes Atto Mile

Soaring Free, a full brother to Parasail, recorded his second straight turf stakes win in the Ontario Jockey Club here last Saturday.

"He ran a great race," said Frostad.

Soaring Free, a 4-year-old gelding who now is perfect in four starts this year, is slated to make his next appearance in the Grade 3, $150,000 Play the King Handicap, a seven-furlong turf race here Aug. 16.

His ultimate target is the Grade 1, $1 million Atto Mile here Sept. 14.