Sphynx spanks 'em
By MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun
How nasty is Eye of the Sphynx?
That's the question floating around Woodbine, after the 4-to-5 favorite won the Labatt Woodbine Oaks title yesterday.
Game enough, trainer Mark Frostad has said, to enjoy putting the hurt on you.
"She'd kick your head off if she got the chance," Frostad said. "She aims when she does it. She has a nasty streak in her."
Nasty and willing enough for the Queen's Plate on what amounts to short rest?
Ever mysterious, the Sphynx has begat more questions than she answered.
Eye of the Sphynx won the 49th running of the Oaks yesterday by a length over 30-1 long-shot Touchnow with 7-1 underdog My Vintage Port third.
The win, the first-ever Oaks combo for Kabel, Sam-Son Farms and trainer Mark Frostad, sets up a vexing question.
Eye of the Sphynx has yet to lose in four outings since breaking her maiden April 22, but she has now run three times since May 9.
Kabel felt Eye of the Sphynx has already given plenty.
"She's just learning and she has had an awful lot asked of her with four hard races," he said.
But is there something in this horse that might be worth the risk.
"She has a lot of ability and I think it's yet to be seen," Kabel said.
Kabel battled the Sphynx for most of the way through the Selene Stakes, May 23 and needed a great stretch run to win by a neck. This time she set herself to the task.
"She was grappling with me for about an eighth of a mile and then she just dropped the bridle," said Kabel, who has 47 wins and $2.7 million in purses this season. "I was very happy when that happened."
Still, the Sphynx flagged near the finish.
"She was getting tired on me at the end. Anytime they start stopping on you -- and I could hear them coming too -- well, I was just hoping to get to the wire."
Yesterday's win, accomplished in one minute 53.11 seconds on a fast track was worth $300,000 and there's plenty more where that came from.
The six-year-old Triple Tiara, the filly version of the Canadian Triple Crown, carries a $350,000 bonus to any horse that can win the Oaks, the Bison City Stakes, July 4 in Fort Erie and the Wonder Where Stakes, Aug. 1, back at Woodbine.
So, do you try to squeeze a Queen's Plate win out of a willing filly who does nothing but win? Or do you bank on an extra week's rest and make a run at the Triple Tiara which, in its short life, has gone unclaimed?
"The Plate's definitely a possibility," Frostad said. "We'll have to think about it."
The Plate is expected attract a solid field including A Bit '0 Gold, destined to to be the pre-race favourite. A weak field might have tempted Sam-Son owners Tammy Samuel-Balaz and Liza Samuel and Forstad to include Eye of the Sphynx along with prospective Plate candidates Silver Ticket and Burst of Fire.
Eye of the Sphynx, a tall, fair-sized horse, would have to recover marvelously to warrant consideration.
Still, the Oaks-Queen's Plate combination has some history at Sam-Son. Dance Smartly (1991) and Dancethruthedawn (2001) have already turned the trick.
"We're going to have to really watch her and see how she comes out of this," Frostad said.
Of all the elements to be weighed, maybe the greatest one is temperament. Eye of the Sphynx burns to run. Maybe, she won't let her owners stop her.