Not all horses live up to their vaunted pedigrees. Wando did so in more ways than one. A multiple stakes winner as a juvenile, he was truly spectacular in 2003 as he captured Canada’s Triple Crown in dominating fashion, winning the Queen’s Plate at Woodbine by nine lengths, the Prince of Wales over a muddy surface at Fort Erie by four lengths and the 1 ½ Breeders’ Stakes on Woodbine’s turf course by 1 ½ lengths. During the final stage of the Triple Crown, jockey Patrick Husbands successfully dealt with a three-horse entry by Sam-Son Farms, escaping the challenging tactics of Shoal Water, Colorful Judgement and Parasail.
Owner and breeder Gustav (Gus) Schickedanz’s decision to breed his award winning homebred stallion Langfuhr (a grandson of Northern Dancer), to his stakes winning mare Kathie’s Colleen, resulted in Wando becoming only the seventh winner of the Triple Crown since 1959. Wando inspired Wando-mania from racing fans — Wando-ful, Magic Wando, etc. — during his assault on Triple Crown glory.
Right from his first start at Woodbine, when he broke his maiden for trainer Mike Keogh, the flashy red colt exhibited a certain quality that marked him for glory down the road. Wando’s next start was in the Vandal Stakes, which he won by almost eight lengths. The Vandal was the first of 12 consecutive stakes starts. He won seven of those added money events. In his next start, Wando lost by a head on the grass in the Summer Stakes, but stormed back with an impressive 3 ¾ length win over U.S. invader Gigawatt in the Grey Breeders’ Cup Stakes. A poor post 12 position in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in Chicago stymied him from ever contending as he was used early and had little left for the finish, beating only one horse in the 13-horse field.
The strong foundation laid down during Wando’s two-year-old campaign set him up for excellence at age three. After a surprising neck defeat in the Achievement Stakes Hdcp., he atoned with a narrow score in the Woodstock Stakes. In his final Plate prep, the Marine Stakes, he showcased his brilliance with an eye-catching wire-to-wire score.
The $1 million Queen’s Plate was billed as a showdown between Wando and the fiercest rival of his generation, Mobil, an equally accomplished individual. Up to this point, Wando hadn’t faced Mobil because they were stablemates. Not only would the Plate crown the leader of the division, it would also move one to the head of the Keogh class. Adding more drama was that jockey Todd Kabel had been riding both sophomores. He chose Mobil, while Patrick Husbands picked up the mount on Wando. As it is frequently said, the rest is history.
While the stablemates did finish one-two, a true test of wills between them never truly materialized. Wando was just too quick. He cleared his 11 rivals early and never looked back, widening his lead at every pole until he was in command by nine lengths in the end. A fourth in the Atto Mile on the turf and a third-place result in the Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park ended Wando’s eight-race season.
At age four, he won two allowance races and the Mt. Sassafras Stakes and had two starts at five, finishing third in the Jacques Cartier at Woodbine and limping home last in the Westchester Handicap at Belmont. Keogh discovered a slight tear in the suspensory ligament of his left hind leg. He was retired with earnings of $2,566,060 and a race record of 11-2-2 in 23 starts. Wando first stood at stud at Lane’s End Farm in Versailles, KY, along with his sire, Langfuhr, but was relocated to Schickedanz’s Schonberg Farm in Nobleton, ON.
He achieved some success as a stallion. He was the sire of Turallure, winner of the Woodbine Mile and a very close second in the Breeders’ Cup Mile in 2011. Wando also sired Wando Woman, a stakes winner in B.C. as well as D’s Wando, a stakes-placed horse in Ontario.
Wando died at Schonberg Farm on Jan. 22, 2014 at the age of 14.