05/16/2003 11:00PM

Woodbine: Wando wins as favorite

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Wando solidified his status as the early favorite for the June 22 Queen's Plate with an authoritative 4 1/2-length victory in Saturday's Grade 3 Marine Stakes for 3-year-olds at Woodbine.

Wando set quick fractions of 22.80 seconds, 46.28, and 1:11.11 in the nine-furlong race while being pressed by Illusive Force and El Ruller. El Ruller was breathing down Wando's neck at the head of the stretch, but Wando kicked away in the final furlong to complete the distance in 1:42.61.

"He's getting better with every start," said Todd Kabel, who rode Wando. "He broke sharp. He was running fast but very relaxed. After I asked him to kick on through the lane, I had to keep busy on him, because he's a horse you have to keep focused."

Wando, trained by Mike Keogh for owner Gustav Schickedanz, returned $3.30 as the favorite and earned $98,280 of the $163,800 purse.

El Ruller finished a clear second, and was followed by Arco's Gold, Illusive Force, Strizzi, and Quiet Dare.