Wando's Queen Plate Quest Begins in Achievement

(from track report)
Queen's Plate winterbook favorite Wando, makes his 2003 debut in Sunday's $161,100 Achievement Stakes at Woodbine, the first major race on the road to the Canada's premier race.

The six-furlong event for 3-year-olds foaled in Canada has attracted a field of six, including some of the early contenders for the Queen's Plate, to be run on June 22 at the Toronto oval.

Owner Gustav Schickedanz's Wando, the 7-2 winterbook choice whose last race was a disappointing 12th-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) on Oct. 26, will be looking to flash the form that earned him three victories and a narrow head loss in his four starts prior to the Juvenile.

"He's grown and you can definitely see a difference in the way he looks," said trainer Mike Keogh, of the lifetime earner of $362,377. "But he still looks great and he's been training very well. I haven't really tightened the screws on him yet, so we'll see how he fares."

With triumphs at Woodbine in the Vandal Stakes, a 7 ¾-length romp on Aug. 18 and a gutsy 3 ¾-length score two months later in the Grey Breeders Cup, the grand-looking chestnut has been a force in added-money events.

On Sunday, the versatile colt, with Todd Kabel in the irons for the first time, will face a group that includes Shipman (a winner on the opening day of the Woodbine meet), Bull Page Stakes winner Biddy's Lad and Melnyk Racing Stable's Bert's Bar.

While the Queen's Plate picture is far from clear at this point, a solid outing in the Achievement could be a harbinger of things to come in the $1-million event.

Wando will be looking to join Regal Intention (1988) and Bompago (1983) as Achievement winners who have gone on to win The Queen's Plate. The Achievement has been run prior to The Plate since 1981.

Keogh, who also has the talented multiple-stakes winner Mobil (6-1) pointed toward a run in the Queen's Plate, prefers to let his young stars do the talking.

As for which member of his one-two punch presents Keogh with his best chance to take the 144th edition of the annual race, his answer might come as a surprise to some.

"I could be dead wrong, but I don't know if Wando will get the 1 ¼-mile (Plate) distance," he offered. "I think he'll be more like his father (Langfuhr) and be a good miler.

"I think Mobil has the ability to handle the distance. But we'll just have to see how things go."

The key for now, says Keogh, is keeping his dynamic duo apart for as long as possible.

"I'm doing my best to keep them separated, but they'll eventually have to face each other some time."

A one-two finish on June 22 would hardly have Keogh complaining.

$161,100 Achievement Stakes, 3-year-olds, 6 furlongs
PP / Horse / Jockey / Trainer
1 / Sonofawac / Emile Ramsammy / Layne Giliforte
2 / Shipman / Dino Luciani / Mike DePaulo
3 / Majestic Wisdom / Constant Montpellier / Chantal Paquette
4 / Wando / Todd Kabel / Mike Keogh
5 / Bert's Bar / Patrick Husbands / Josie Carroll
6 / Biddy's Lad / Chantal Sutherland / Mike Doyle