07/04/2004 11:00PM

Rival fillies eye rubber match


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - There will again be no winner of the Canadian filly triple crown series this year, after Touchnow derailed the seemingly invincible Eye of the Sphynx in Fort Erie's 1 1/16-mile Bison City on Sunday.

But that won't stop Touchnow and Eye of the Sphynx from renewing their rivalry in the final leg of the series, the $250,000 Wonder Where over 1 1/4 miles of turf here Aug. 1.

Trained by Reade Baker, Touchnow had finished second to Eye of the Sphynx in the opening leg of the series, the 1 1/8-mile Woodbine Oaks on June 13.

"I still think that if I'd run her earlier in the year I would have beat that filly in the Oaks," said Baker on Monday morning. "We had to cram things together once we got back home."

After making one start at 2 and wintering in Ocala, Fla., Touchnow made her seasonal bow here April 25, and the Oaks marked her fourth start in seven weeks.

Eye of the Sphynx didn't exactly take a leisurely approach, either. She was making her debut when winning over seven furlongs at Keeneland April 22 and was racing for the fourth time in the Oaks.

"She didn't handle the track very well; it was cuppy," said trainer Mark Frostad after watching Eye of the Sphynx suffer her first defeat in the Bison City. "She was scrambling, exerting herself. She had a little heat stroke; she was a little wonky in the test barn. But she'll be back."

My Lordship nice surprise on dirt

My Lordship, a Kentucky homebred owned by Live Oak Plantation, can now boast of being the only undefeated stakes-winning 3-year-old filly based at Woodbine after capturing the first running of the Hill 'n' Dale, a 1 1/16-mile race here last Saturday.

That win was the fourth in four starts for My Lordship, who had captured a first-level allowance for fillies and mares over 6 1/2 furlongs of turf in her seasonal bow here June 18.

My Lordship, trained by Malcolm Pierce, did not make it to the races until November.

"What I was originally planning to do with her was grass racing," said Pierce. "I'd worked her on the turf a little bit and always thought she was better on it."

By the time My Lordship was ready, her turf opportunities had passed, and she scored impressively in her debut over seven furlongs on the main track. Three weeks later, My Lordship demolished first-level allowance opposition over 1 1/16 miles.

My Lordship emerged from that second start with a minor problem, which eventually curtailed a proposed winter campaign at Fair Grounds, and she wintered at the Live Oak property in Ocala.

"They gave her the time off, and that's why she was late getting started this spring, too, because she needed the rest," said Pierce. "She's worth waiting for."

The Hill 'n' Dale, in fact, was not originally on My Lordship's schedule.

"I'd actually planned on keeping this filly on the grass all summer," said Pierce. "As I looked around, I thought there aren't that many 3-year-old stakes fillies on the grounds, and this race conflicted with the Bison City. I thought it was going to be a short field and maybe not the toughest field, so we jumped in there."

Pierce said My Lordship could make her next appearance in the Grade 3, $100,000 Lake George Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga Aug. 2.

"I would like to get her back on the grass again," said Pierce, noting that the $125,000 Ontario Colleen, a one-mile race Sept. 4, would be the next turf stakes opportunity for My Lordship here.

Wando back working

Wando, Canada's reigning horse of the year, breezed four furlongs in 47.20 seconds here last Saturday, his first workout since finishing fourth in the King Edward Breeders' Cup Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on a yielding turf course here June 19.

Wando had come out of the King Edward with a high white blood cell count, indicative of an infection.

"I pulled another blood on him the day before he worked, and it came back good," said trainer Mike Keogh.

The $125,000 Seagram Cup, a 1 1/16-mile dirt race here Aug. 7, is a possible spot for Wando's return.

Mobil eyes Chinese Cultural Centre

Wando's stablemate Mobil was an impressive winner of the Grade 3 Dominion Day Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on the main track here last Thursday.

Keogh said Mobil will be nominated to the Grade 2, $300,000 Chinese Cultural Centre Stakes, a 1 3/8-mile turf race here July 25.

"But, whether we go there or not is another matter," he said.

Slew Valley works for next

If Mobil does opt for the Chinese Cultural Centre, he will have to contend with Slew Valley, who left Wando in his wake when he won the King Edward.

Trained by Baker for owners Jim Hindman and Alan Burkhard, Slew Valley breezed five furlongs on the main track here last Saturday in a bullet 59.20 under jockey Jim McAleney.

McAleney also put another pair of Baker trainees through their paces on the main track Sunday, with Silver Bird working six furlongs in 1:14.60 and Raylene clocked in 1:15 for the same distance.

Silver Bird, fifth in the Oaks in her last start, is headed for the Grade 3, $150,000 Duchess, a seven-furlong race here Aug. 21.

Raylene, who recently joined Baker's barn after dominating her competition in Alberta, will be entered here in both the July 17 Dance Smartly and the July 18 Belle Mahone.

Both races are for fillies and mares, with the 1 1/8-mile Dance Smartly on turf and the 1 1/16-mile Belle Mahone, which is not part of the guaranteed stakes program, on the main track.

* Nashinda breezed five furlongs in 59.40 on the turf training track here Sunday and is slated to make her turf debut in Saturday's $150,000 Ontario Damsel, a 6 1/2-furlong race for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.