Wando in the Pink With Woodstock Score

(from track report)
Now that he's resumed his healthy eating habits, Wando, the early Queen's Plate favorite, showed his appetite for victory on the racetrack, in taking Saturday's $135,875 Woodstock Stakes at Woodbine.

Earlier this week, trainer Mike Keogh admitted he had some concerns about Wando, the grand-looking son of Langfuhr, who wasn't eating well. But a series of tests showed the chestnut was in great order and that's exactly how the Gus Schickedanz three-year-old performed in the six-furlong Woodstock.

"We got him eating pretty good in the last week and did more blood work on him than you can shake a stick at, but the tests all came back perfect," said Keogh, of the Ontario-bred, who now has three career added-money wins (Vandal, Grey Breeders' Cup and the Woodstock). "Everything told me I should run him."

It was Soitenly who got the early jump on the field, crossing over from the outside post seven to assume early command, reaching the opening quarter-mile in a quick :22.69. Biddy's Lad, along the rail and Mazengah dueled with the leader in the opening stages of the race.

Todd Kabel, aboard Wando for the second-straight race, settled his colt just off the pacesetting trio in tandem with rival I'm The Tiger.

The duo drew clear of their speedy foes in mid-stretch and engaged in a thrilling late race duel.

Wando eked out a neck victory in a time of 1:10.67 over a main track rated as "fast."

"I got a little worried on the turn," said Keogh, who trained Woodcarver to victory in the 1999 Queen's Plate. "It looked like Robbie Landry (aboard I'm The Tiger) was going to bury him there, but Kabel rode (Wando) well."

In spite of the victory, Kabel figures we haven't seen the best from Wando, who continues to be pointed to the Plate, set for June 22 at Woodbine.

"I had a great trip the whole race, but I don't think he's given us everything he can from what he displayed last year. I definitely had more horse today than during the Achievement (in which Wando finished second in his 2003 debut). He's coming around now and this will certainly pick his head up."

For Keogh, his biggest challenge remains keeping his two Queen's Plate-eligible prospects from hooking up before the "gallop for the guineas."

"We're trying to keep Mobil (Queen's Plate Winterbook third selection) and Wando separated," said Keogh. "I don't know what we're going to do, but Mobil is running in the Queenston (May 3 at Woodbine)."

Wando, who paid $4.20, $2.50 and $2.50 across the board, combined with I'm The Tiger ($3.00, $2.70) for a $13.70 exacta. El Ruller ($8.50) rounded out a $159.00 trifecta.

(Chart, Equibase)