05/20/2004 11:00PM

Unbeaten 'Sphynx' faces twin threats

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The unbeaten Eye of the Sphynx will be favored in Sunday's $275,000 Selene Stakes at Woodbine, but trainer Reade Baker may have a strategic advantage in the Grade 2 event for 3-year-old fillies when he sends out Ontheqt and Silver Bird.

Eye of the Sphynx won her stakes debut on the front end two weeks ago, in the seven-furlong Fury. With the stretchout to 1 1/16 miles in the Selene, she figures to show speed, but could be caught between a rock and a hard place. Baker will have the speedy Ontheqt winging it up front, with Silver Bird in a stalking position. Eye of the Sphynx could have a hard time catching Ontheqt if she lets that one go, or she could get cooked in a speed duel.

Handicappers must also keep in mind that Eye of the Sphynx is prepping for the June 13 Labatt Woodbine Oaks, and owner Sam-Son Farm recently paid $15,000 to supplement her to the June 27 Queen's Plate. The Selene hasn't been her prime objective, and if she's subjected to rating tactics, it will be contradictory to her current demeanor, according to trainer Mark Frostad.

"You have to watch her, because she's pretty rambunctious," Frostad said. "When a horse hooks her, she wants to go."

Ontheqt defeated the previously unbeaten Nashinda by a nose in the April 25 Star Shoot Stakes. Baker was elated with the performance, especially after Nashinda came back to romp in a second-level allowance.

"[Ontheqt] was tough and gritty," Baker said. "I don't know if we saw the real Nashinda that day, but I'm certainly proud of Ontheqt's race, and Nashinda came back to win easily. The only two times [Ontheqt] was beaten, we tried to rate her off the pace, which wasn't a very good idea. If it wasn't for that, she might be undefeated."

Onthqt has yet to compete beyond six furlongs, and because of her running style, Baker has reservations about her getting the Selene distance. He noted, however, that the daughter of Mazel Trick and a Smarten mare is bred to run long.

Silver Bird, victorious in the Glorious Song Stakes at 2, finished second in the Fury following a six-month layoff.

"I was happy with it," said Baker, "but I think it was really telling that we didn't have a race into her, although I don't know if we could have handled the winner anyway."

Also entered in the Selene are My Vintage Port, Charming Proposal, Sweet Problem, and Pandora's Secret.