After two starts in the United States, Wando, Canada's reigning Horse of the Year, makes his 2004 Woodbine debut on Saturday in the $324,300 King Edward Breeders' Cup Stakes (Can-II).The last time Wando competed at Woodbine, the result was a strong fourth-place finish in the $1-million Atto Mile (Can-I) last fall, just 2 1/4 lengths back of winner Touch of the Blues. This year, the Gus Schickedanz star made his 4-year-old debut a winning one, a three-quarter of a length triumph in an allowance race at Keeneland in Kentucky.That was followed by a seventh-place performance in the 1 1 /8-mile Dixie Handicap (gr. IIT) at Pimlico.The son of Langfuhr will take to the turf for the fifth time in his past six starts. The Ontario bred will face the Sam-Son duo of Surging River and Shoal Water, the latter having faced the nine-time winner in all three races of the Canadian Triple Crown Series last year, as well as the April 18 race in Keeneland."I can tell you he's a different horse now," said jockey Patrick Husbands, aboard Wando for his Triple Crown campaign in 2003, starting with a nine-length romp in the Queen's Plate. "He's at his best right now, and he's going to get better."Slew Valley, who took top honors in the Connaught Cup on May 30 at Woodbine, and U.S. invader Remind complete the field in the 1 1/8-mile feature.In 15 lifetime starts, Wando has nine wins, two seconds and a third, along with $2,413,800 in purse earnings for trainer Mike Keogh.
$300,000 King Edward Breeders' Cup Handicap (Can-II), 3 & up, 1 1/8 mile on turf
PP. Horse, Weight, Jocky
1. Shoal Water (ON), 114, Todd Kabel
2. Wando (ON), 118, Patrick Husbands
3. Slew Valley (MD), 117, James McAleney
4. Remind (KY), 114, Emile Ramsammy
5. Surging River (ON), 110, James McKnight