09/02/2004 12:00AM

Emerald Earrings on the upswing

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Upwardly mobile Emerald Earrings is one of several contenders in Saturday's $143,250 Ontario Colleen Handicap, a one-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies at Woodbine.

Emerald Earrings, trained by the Fort Erie-based Bruce Alexander, hasn't been worse than second in six starts. She won her maiden at Fort Erie last summer and was second following a six-month layoff in a turf allowance at Tampa in February.

Emerald Earrings was second again when she resurfaced here two months later, in a five-furlong allowance. She subsequently captured a six-furlong allowance by five lengths, and then ran second on the grass in the Alywow Stakes.

When she stretched out to a mile in the allowance prep for the Colleen, Emerald Earrings led at every call and won by two lengths, earning a fine Beyer Speed Figure of 89.

Alexander said he wasn't shocked by Emerald Earrings' effort in the prep.

"She had been training superbly," Alexander recalled. "She was in control of the pace, and the farther they ran in the race, the more confident I felt. Whether or not she'll be that fortunate again, I don't know. I don't know if she was just faster than them, or maybe they thought she was just cheap speed, and they let her control it. It may have been a little of both."

Alexander said Emerald Earrings has been a treat to train.

"Everything I've ever asked her to do, she's done well," Alexander said. "Every race has been a little better than the previous one. She's been the real deal since day one. I turned down a lot of money for her, because I think she has room to improve."

Eye of the Sphynx, trained by Mark Frostad, should be the Colleen favorite. After taking the Grade 2 Selene Stakes in May, she ran in all three legs of the Canadian triple tiara.

Eye of the Sphynx proved a handy winner of the first tiara event, the Woodbine Oaks. She went on to finish a close second in both the Bison City Stakes at Fort Erie and the 1 1/4-mile Wonder Where Stakes here on the grass.

"She had a bit of a virus going on right after her last race," Frostad recalled. "I don't know if she went into the race with it or what, but she was pretty flat. It could also have been the hot weather - she doesn't like the heat very much. It was pretty hot on those two days when she was beaten. She just came up flat."