07/20/2003 12:00AM

Wando one away from Canadian Crown

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FORT ERIE, Ontario - The rains came at Fort Erie Sunday, but the muddy going couldn't keep Wando from his appointed rounds as he led throughout for a four-length victory in the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes.

The Prince of Wales victory, coming on the heels of Wando's equally impressive score in Woodbine's June 22 Queen's Plate, gave Wando a second leg up on his quest for a Canadian Triple Crown.

A win in the $500,000 Breeders' Stakes, a 1.5 mile turf race at Woodbine Aug. 9, would make Wando the seventh horse to pull off the Canadian Triple since its inauguration in 1959 and the first since Peteski in 1993.

The $300,000 Wando earned here brought his career total to $1,474,402. A successful Breeders' bid would be worth another $300,000 plus bonuses of $550,000 to his owner, Gustav Schickedanz, including $50,000 as breeder of the colt.

"As long as he's healthy, he'll be there," said Schickedanz, after watching Wando dominate six fellow Canadian-bred opponents in the 1 3/16 mile Prince of Wales. "It will be a pleasure."

Wando, the 3-10 choice following his nine-length romp in the Plate for trainer Mike Keogh, again established command quickly here under jockey Patrick Husbands but was immediately engaged by Shoal Water, who pressed the pace through an opening quarter in :22.94.

"That was a little bit of a concern," said Keogh, with respect to the first fraction. "I could see they were going to go with us a little bit.

"But once Shoal Water kind of gave up on us, I thought we'd be tough to beat."

Shoal Water, who had tracked Wando down the backstretch through a :46.48 half, took one last shot on the far turn but could not make any inroads.

Husbands, meanwhile, took his first of several peeks back at about that point and was virtually motionless the rest of the way as Wando opened up four lengths. He was termed an "easy" winner by chart caller Bud Williams.

Shoal Water ran on well but was unable to fend off Arco's Gold, finishing two lengths behind that one in third.

Peef, Solihull, Sonofawac and Gavro completed the order of finish.

Wando, who finished in 1:55.84 and paid $2.60. The exactor returned $7.70, the triactor $15.30.

* Husbands was capping a perfect day here aboard Wando as he also won the two supporting features, the $68,900 Benburb aboard Geraint ($9.00) and the $65,300 Border with Agolo ($5.50).

Geraint, a 7-year-old gelding, and Agolo, a 5-year-old mare, both are based at Woodbine with trainer Catherine Day Phillips, who campaigns both runners under her nom du course of Kingfield Farm.