Updated on 09/17/2011 11:09AM

Wando's wild card

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Wando gallops at Woodbine on Tuesday in preparation for Saturday's Breeders' Stakes.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The Canadian Triple Crown, unlike its American cousin, includes a wild card.

The distances of the three races that make up the Canadian and U.S. series are identical, with the Queen's Plate going here at Woodbine over 1 1/4 miles, Fort Erie's Prince of Wales at 1 3/16 miles, and the Breeders' Stakes here at 1 1/2 miles.

The kicker is that Saturday's Breeders' is run on turf, and that - plus the extended distance - will be one of the challenges facing Wando when he bids to become the seventh winner of the Canadian Triple Crown and the first since Peteski in 1993.

A field of eight was entered Wednesday in the $500,000 Breeders', with turf specialist Strizzi posing the greatest challenge to Wando. If Wando proves successful, he would earn an additional $550,000 in bonuses for his owner-breeder, Gustav Schickedanz.

Wando dominated the Queen's Plate by nine lengths and the Prince of Wales by four lengths in front-running fashion, and trainer Mike Keogh is confident in his colt's ability to handle the switch in surfaces.

"I'm not worried about the turf," Keogh said. "He ran such a big race on it last year, in the Summer Stakes. I don't think turf will be a problem."

In the Summer Stakes, a Grade 2 race over one mile here last Sept. 8, Wando was beaten a head by invader Lismore Knight, who has since affirmed his turf credentials by winning the Grade 2 Arlington Classic and an allowance race at Belmont Park. Lismore Knight also placed in the Grade 3 Generous at Hollywood Park and the Grade 3 Kent Breeders' Cup at Delaware Park

Wando did not set foot on a turf course again until last Friday, when he worked six furlongs in 1:14.60 under his regular rider, Patrick Husbands, in a special turf training session here for Breeders' candidates. Both Husbands and Keogh were pleased with the exercise.

That leaves the question of whether Wando will get the Breeders' Stakes distance.

"I haven't got a clue," Keogh said. "Really, I think he will get it, the way he trains. But that's just guessing."

Husbands, who has exuded confidence in Wando since he picked up the mount after Todd Kabel elected to ride stablemate Mobil in the Plate, is less reticent.

"He's special," Husbands said. "That's the one thing that is always in the back of my head. The way he does everything you ask of him - he's just very special."

Keogh and Husbands do agree that Wando will be able to rate, if the need arises, despite having captured the Plate, the Prince of Wales, and, earlier, the 1 1/16-mile Marine in take-no-prisoners fashion.

"He's definitely not a need-to-lead type," Keogh said. "It's not like he was 'sent,' like we asked him to do it.

"He rated real nice in the Grey last year, and that was as a 2-year-old. He's more mature now."

Last October, Wando relaxed in third place here in the early going of the 1 1/16-mile Grey, which was his first try around two turns, before rallying for an impressive score.

The colt also was about five lengths back at the midway point of the Summer, and showed tractability again this spring when coming from off the pace in his first two sprint outings, finishing second in the six-furlong Achievement before winning the Woodstock over the same distance.

The only blemish on Wando's record is last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Arlington Park, where he finished 12th of 13. Keogh has maintained that Wando's post position there, 12, was a killer at the 1 1/8-mile distance.

Supporting that notion is that Toccet, the only horse to break outside Wando in the Juvenile, finished a distant ninth but came back to win three consecutive stakes, including the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity.

Keogh certainly is familiar with what it takes for a horse to overcome the obstacles that the Breeders' presents to a Triple Crown aspirant, as he worked as an assistant to trainer Roger Attfield when With Approval and Izvestia swept the series in 1989 and 1990, respectively.

Keogh also was with Attfield when Peteski began his march to the Canadian Triple Crown in the Queen's Plate, but he went out on his own as the private trainer for Schickedanz one week later - and saddled his first solo winner on the day Peteski won the Prince of Wales.

"They were just so good, it didn't matter," Keogh said of Attfield's Canadian Triple Crown winners.

The odds are we'll soon be saying the same about Wando.