08/06/2003 11:00PM

Wando goes for a piece of history


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Wando, a commanding winner of both the Queen's Plate and Prince of Wales Stakes, will attempt to become the first Canadian Triple Crown winner in a decade, and just the seventh since the series was created in 1959, when he starts as the favorite in Saturday's $500,000 Breeders' Stakes at Woodbine.

Seven other Canadian-bred 3-year-olds will try to rain on Wando's parade in the 113th running of the 1 1/2-mile event, which will encompass one lap of the E.P. Taylor turf course. If Wando is successful, his owner-breeder, Gustav Schickedanz, will earn a $500,000 Triple Crown bonus and an extra $50,000 as the breeder of the colt.

Saturday's card will also include the $167,250 Duchess Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs.

Wando set a quick pace over a speed-favoring track in the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate before drawing off for an impressive nine-length score under Patrick Husbands. Husbands was also little more than a passenger in the Prince of Wales at Fort Erie, as Wando shrugged off an early challenge from Shoal Water before cruising to a four-length triumph.

Wando's only start on the grass resulted in a narrow loss to Lismore Knight here Sept. 8, in the one-mile Summer Stakes. Lismore Knight subsequently finished second to Peace Rules in the Grade 3 Generous Stakes at Hollywood and was recently victorious in the Grade 2 Arlington Classic.

"I really don't have any problems running him on the turf," said trainer Mike Keogh. "The only thing we have to worry about is if he can get the mile and a half."

Wando breezed three-quarters of a mile over the Taylor turf in 1:14.60 in company with stablemate Wild Strike on Aug. 1, much to Keogh's satisfaction. "He was nice and relaxed," Keogh said. "They went a little slow early, but they finished up really well."

Keogh has been through the Triple Crown grind before, as an assistant to trainer Roger Attfield, who won back-to-back Triple Crowns in 1989 and 1990 with With Approval and Izvestia.

Wando's exercise rider, Louise MacDonald, also rode Izvestia. She said Wando and Izvestia share many similarities. "Their temperaments are very similar," MacDonald noted. "They're both very kind horses, who like to play a little."

Strizzi, trained by Malcolm Pierce for Stronach Stable, could have the best chance of upsetting Wando. A late-runner, Strizzi hasn't found the mark since he captured a Jan. 8 allowance at Gulfstream, but he is coming off a pair of fine efforts over the turf here

Strizzi ran second to Moonshine Hall in the June 22 Charlie Barley Handicap, from which third-place finisher Silver Tree exited to take the Virginia Derby. Most recently, in the nine-furlong Toronto Cup Handicap, he made a wide bid from off a slow pace to end up second behind front-running Mobil.

Pierce is confident that Strizzi will handle the extended distance.

"He's never acted like he has any distance limitations," Pierce said. "He can sit and just gallop along for a mile. He doesn't drag you up there after a half-mile."

Sam-Son Farm and trainer Mark Frostad were foiled in their bid for the Triple Crown in 2000 when Scatter the Gold finished third. in the Breeders' They will try to play the role of spoilers on Saturday by running three horses: Parasail, Shoal Water, and Colorful Judgement.

Parasail will be winging it on the lead under Robert Landry, with the intent of trying to drag Wando along through fast fractions. A full brother to top sprinter Soaring Free, Parasail has won both of his starts in front-running style, including a one-mile turf allowance.

"He relaxed quite nicely and finished up strong in his last race," Landry said. "If they leave me alone on the lead, he'll last a long time."

Shoal Water, fourth in the Plate and third in the Wales, was a close second to Mobil when he debuted at 2 on turf in the Cup and Saucer Stakes.

"I know he's better on the grass," Frostad said. "We tried to put pressure on [Wando] in the Prince of Wales, and got caught for second. If we'd have run for second money, we'd have gotten second, but we were trying to win the race."

Colorful Judgement won his maiden in allowance company, and was recently third against older allowance opposition going a 1 3/8 miles on grass.