11/26/2003 12:00AM

Wando tops Sovereign Award finalists

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Wando, winner of the Canadian Triple Crown and more than $2 million this year, heads the list of 2003 Sovereign Award finalists released by the Jockey Club of Canada on Wednesday.

The Sovereign Awards, which are the Canadian counterpart to the Eclipse Awards, honor outstanding achievement Thoroughbred racing and breeding.

The finalists, in each of 15 divisions, were determined by ballots of 58 voters across Canada, who ranked their top three choices in each category with points awarded on a 4-2-1 basis.

The results were tabulated by accountants PriceWaterhouseCoopers. The winners in each category, including Horse of the Year, will be announced Dec. 6 at the 29th annual Sovereign Awards gala at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto. The Horse of the Year finalists and winner will be announced at the Sovereign ceremonies.

To be eligible, horses had to have made three starts in Canada this year by the Nov. 16 cutoff date. There is a 10-start minimum for jockeys, trainers, owners, and breeders.

Wando, a leading candidate for the Horse of the Year, is a virtual certainty to be named top 3-year-old male and is joined on that list by his stablemate Mobil.

Wando and Mobil each won five stakes this year. Their owner and breeder, Gustav Schickedanz, is finalist in both the owner and breeder categories. Mike Keogh, who trains Wando and Mobil, is also on the short list for the trainer category, and Patrick Husbands, Wando's rider during the Triple Crown run, is up for his fifth consecutive Sovereign Award as outstanding jockey.

Bob Tiller, another finalist for the outstanding trainer award, is represented by horses in four categories: Winter Garden, a 3-year-old filly finalist; Brass in Pocket, older filly or mare finalist; and Forever Grand, in the running for both the older male and sprinter awards.

Wake at Noon and Chopinina are the only horse finalists who have a chance to repeat as Sovereign Award winners.

Wake at Noon, owned and bred by Schickedanz and trained by Abraham Katryan, is a finalist in the older male category. He won that award as well as outstanding sprinter and Horse of the Year in 2002.

Chopinina, owned by Knob Hill Stable and trained by Alec Fehr, won the filly-mare turf title last year and again is a finalist in that category.

The turf male finalists are a solid trio: Perfect Soul and Soaring Free, who both wound up their campaigns in the Breeders' Cup Mile, and Strut the Stage.

Soaring Free, also a finalist in the sprinter category, and Strut the Stage both are owned by Sam-Son Farm, which is nominated for both the owner and breeder awards. Their trainer, Mark Frostad, is named in his category.

While the majority of the Sovereign Award finalists are based in Ontario, there are several exceptions.

Based at Hastings in Vancouver are Dancewithavixen, a contender for the 3-year-old filly award; Roscoe Pito, a 3-year-old male finalist; and Nicola Wright, who is an apprentice jockey nominee.

The peripatetic America America, who started here three times in September, is a 2-year-old filly finalist.

The 2-year-old male nominees include Judiths Wild Rush, whose Beyer Speed Figure of 105 for his 10-length romp in Woodbine's Display Stakes equals the best in North America for his age group this year.

Sovereign Nominees

2-year-old filly

America America

My Vintage Port

Silver Bird

2-year-old colt/gelding

A Bit O'Gold

Judiths Wild Rush

Smoocher

3-year-old filly

Dancewithavixen

Too Late Now

Winter Garden

3-year-old colt/gelding

Mobil

Roscoe Pito

Wando

Older filly or mare

Brass in Pocket

One for Rose

Winning Chance

Older colt, horse or gelding

Forever Grand

Phantom Light

Wake at Noon

Turf filly or mare

Chopinina

Inish Glora

Strait From Texas

Turf colt, horse or gelding

Perfect Soul

Soaring Free

Strut the Stage

Sprinter

Forever Grand

Mulligan the Great

Soaring Free

Jockey

Patrick Husbands

Todd Kabel

Emile Ramsammy

Apprentice jockey

Julia Brimo

Jillian Scharfstein

Nicola Wright

Outstanding Trainer

Mark Frostad

Mike Keogh

Bob Tiller

Owner

Sam-Son Farm

Gustav Schickedanz

Stronach Stables

Breeder

Adena Springs

Sam-Son Farm

Gustav Schickedanz

Broodmare

Annasan

Biddy Mulligan

Radiant Ring