06/13/2004 11:00PM

Plate possible for 'Sphynx'


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - There's no question that Eye of the Sphynx was the star of the present after she ran her undefeated streak to four in Sunday's $500,000 Labatt Woodbine Oaks.

But much of the postrace focus concerned Eye of the Sphynx's future. Specifically, would she run back against males in the $1 million Queen's Plate at 1 1/4 miles here on June 27?

"I'm glad I don't have to make that decision today," Mark Frostad said Monday morning. "At this point, I have no idea. We'll have to see how she trains, keeping in mind that's she's been through an awful lot in a short time. Two weeks is a little close, but we'll see. She's sharp today."

Eye of the Sphynx, a homebred whom Frostad conditions for Sam-Son Farm, indeed has been on an accelerated program.

Unraced at 2, Eye of the Sphynx made her first start at Keeneland on April 22 in a seven-furlong maiden special. She then captured the seven-furlong Fury here May 9, gamely handled the stretch-out to 1 1/16 miles in the May 23 Selene, and delivered the coup de grace in the Oaks while racing over a fast track for the first time.

Sam-Son and Frostad were successful with the two-week Oaks-to-Plate move in 2001 when Dancethruthedawn followed in the footsteps of her dam - Canada's 1991 Horse of the Year, Dance Smartly - and captured both races.

But Frostad, who took over as Sam-Son's trainer in 1994, said that Dancethruthedawn had the benefit of a four-race 2-year-old campaign, including a pair of two-turn starts.

At 3, Dancethruthedawn had made her seasonal debut at Keeneland on April 6, had come back four weeks later to finish 12th in the Kentucky Oaks, and then had five weeks to prepare for the Canadian Oaks.

If Eye of the Sphynx opts for the luxury of an extra week between starts and the company of her own sex, then the 1 1/16-mile Labatt Bison City at Fort Erie is an enticing alternative.

The July 4 Bison City offers a $250,000 purse and is the second leg of the Canadian Triple Tiara, which winds up here on Aug. 1 with the $250,000 Wonder Where at 1 1/4 miles on turf, a surface that suits Eye of the Sphynx's pedigree. A Triple Tiara sweep would earn Sam-Son a $350,000 bonus.

And, according to Frostad, Sam-Son plans to be represented in the Plate in any event, with either Silver Ticket or Burst of Fire set to carry the stable colors.

Silver Ticket raced three times at 2 but has seen action just once this season, winning a first-level allowance at one mile on turf here June 5. Burst of Fire has made five starts in a career that began March 15, but finished fourth, beaten 15 lengths, here in Sunday's 1 1/8-mile Victoria Park.

Touchnow the best of Baker's triple entry

Trainer Reade Baker, with three of the five Oaks entrants, was delighted with the performance of runner-up Touchnow but had to watch Hong Kong Dancer come home a distant fourth and Silver Bird a virtually eased-up fifth.

Silver Bird, who had finished a neck behind Eye of the Sphynx as the runner-up in the Selene, and Hong Kong Dancer, undefeated in two starts, had been sent off as the third and second choices, respectively, and had no apparent excuses.

"Silver Bird was perfect this morning," Baker said Monday. "Hong Kong Dancer was a little stiff in behind."

Baker will go back to the drawing board with Silver Bird, who had finished second in the 1 1/16-mile Princess Elizabeth and then won the seven-furlong Glorious Song to close out her juvenile campaign.

"After her first race at two turns, I thought she was a sprinter," Baker said. "She came back and ran like a sprinter in the Oaks. I'll cut her back and aim for the Duchess."

The Grade 3, $150,000 Duchess is an open seven-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies here Aug. 21.

While Baker has not completely ruled out a Bison City appearance by Hong Kong Dancer, his long-term target for the filly is the $125,000 Algoma, a 1 1/16-mile yearling sales stakes for fillies and mares here Sept. 5.

Touchnow, meanwhile, was the rank outsider Sunday at 29-1 and is a definite candidate for the Bison City.

"I always thought she had that in her," Baker said. "It was her disappointing races that really bothered me."

Owned by George Farr, Touchnow had come into the Oaks off a distant fifth-place finish behind Hong Kong Dancer while making her first start around two turns.

Touchnow could be part of another Baker bunch in the Bison City, with On Account of Me and Silky Tresses both penciled in for the trip to the Fort.

On Account of Me won her maiden at 1 1/16 miles here last Thursday while making her third career start and first on a fast track.

Silky Tresses finished third in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special race on the turf here June 6 after finishing second over 1 1/16 miles of slop in her local debut.

My Vintage Port okay after gate incident

My Vintage Port, the third-place finisher in the Oaks, also is a Bison City candidate.

Canada's champion 2-year-old filly, My Vintage Port had a scary moment just before the start of the Oaks as she reared up and banged herself on the gate.

"It took a little nick out of her, just above her eye," said Rick Pettifer, co-owner of My Vintage Port along with her trainer, Ken Parsley. "It's nothing serious, but we were kind of a bit worried. She came out of the race good."