12/07/2003 1:00AM

Wando tops Canada's Sovereign Awards

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TORONTO, Ontario - Wando, winner of the Canadian Triple Crown and $2,017,323 this season, received his just deserts when honored as Canada's Horse of the Year at the 29th annual Sovereign Awards ceremony here Saturday night.

Winners of the Sovereign Awards, which honor the outstanding performers in Canadian Thoroughbred horseracing and breeding, were determined by 58 voters who listed their top three choices in each of 16 categories. Points were assigned on a 4-2-1 basis.

Owned and bred by Gustav Schickedanz and trained by Mike Keogh, Wando was joined as a Horse of the Year finalist by Perfect Soul, winner of Keeneland's Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile and the champion turf male, and Soaring Free, a multiple stakes winner on turf who was voted champion sprinter.

Wando also was the runaway winner of the Sovereign Award in the 3-year-old colt or gelding category where his stablemate, Mobil, was the runner-up.

But, surprisingly, Schickedanz himself was shut out in both the owner and breeding categories, where his success had seemed to be a foregone conclusion.

Stronach Stable, which was represented by champion older male Phantom Light, edged Schickedanz in the outstanding owner voting to take home its eighth award in the category.

Sam-Son Farm, whose homebred Soaring Free also was the runner-up in the turf male voting, collected its fourth consecutive award and sixth overall as outstanding breeder.

Wando's trainer, Mike Keogh, had been expected to be involved in a close vote in his category but was a distant second to Bob Tiller, who was Woodbine's leading trainer in races, money, and stakes races won.

Tiller also was represented by four divisional finalists but was blanked on those fronts, suffering incredibly tough beats when Forever Grand was defeated by a single point in the older horse voting and Winter Garden lost by the same margin in the 3-year-old filly balloting.

Forever Grand also was runner-up in the sprinter vote and his stablemate Brass in Pocket was second in the older mare balloting.

Too Late Now, winner of the Grade 1 Selene and Labatt Woodbine Oaks, was the 3-year-old filly champion while One for Rose, whose major success came in Woodbine's Grade 3 Maple Leaf, was champion older mare.

The votes in the other equine categories were decisive with My Vintage Port being honored as champion 2-year-old filly, Judiths Wild Rush as 2-year-old male, and Inish Glora as turf female.

Todd Kabel, Woodbine's leading rider in races, money and stakes races won, was a runaway winner of the outstanding jockey award, his third such success but his first since 1995.

The runner-up was Patrick Husbands, who was looking for his fifth consecutive award in the category.

Julia Brimo, Woodbine's leading apprentice rider, took home the Sovereign Award in her category. Nicola Wright, based at Hastings in Vancouver, was the runner-up for the second straight year.

Radiant Ring was honored as outstanding broodmare, which is a lifetime achievement award.

Sovereign Awards also were presented in four media categories, with the winners determined by the vote of a panel of judges.

Paul Wiecek, of the Winnipeg Free Press, was the winner of both the newspaper article and feature story awards. Michael Burns Jr. picked up his sixth award for outstanding photograph and Horse Racing Alberta & White Iron productions were honored in the film/video/broadcast category.