Eye of the Sphynx Romps in Woodbine Oaks

(from Woodbine report)
Sam-Son Farm's Eye of the Sphynx remained perfect in four career starts after a surprisingly easy 4 1/4-length triumph in the $500,000 Labatt Woodbine Oaks Sunday at Woodbine.

The time for the premier event for Canadian-foaled 3-year-old fillies was 1:53.11 on a fast track.

With jockey Todd Kabel aboard, the bay daughter of Smart Strike stalked a modest pace (:48.21 for a half-mile, 1:13.72 for three-quarters of a mile) set by Silver Bird down the backstretch before taking over heading into the far turn of the 1 1/8-mile classic.

From there, Eye of the Sphynx skipped away to a clear lead and increased the margin through the lane, finishing well in front of 29-1 shot Touchnow, one of three Reade Baker-trained Oaks entrants. My Vintage Port, last year's Sovereign Award winner as Canada's top juvenile filly, came home third, a further nine lengths back. Hong Kong Dancer and Silver Bird rounded out the field of five.

"She showed up today. That's four times in a row," said Kabel, celebrating his second Oaks win after capturing the 1998 renewal with favored Kirby's Song. "I thought if we could slow it up and sprint home, that would do it. That's exactly what happened."

"She's been really a great surprise for us this year," said winning trainer Mark Frostad. "You come into the year with a filly that's never started and she ends up doing this kind of thing, it's pretty special."

Options for Eye of the Sphynx would be the $1 million Queen's Plate June 27 at Woodbine, against colts over 1 1/4 miles – a race for which she has been kept eligible – or the $250,000 Labatt Bison City Stakes July 4 at Fort Erie at 1 1/16 miles. The Bison City is the second leg of the filly Triple Tiara. The Wonder Where Stakes on turf Aug. 1 at Woodbine, is the third leg.

If she goes in the Plate, Eye of the Sphynx would be following in the rather large hoofprints of two former Sam-Son champions, Dancethruthedawn (2001) and Dance Smartly (1991).

Eye of the Sphynx gave her owner/breeder a record seventh Oaks triumph, moving past E.P.Taylor/Windfields Farm, since the classic began in 1956, the year Woodbine Racetrack opened.

Sam-Son's other Oaks wins came with Dancethruthedawn (2001), Catch The Ring (2000), Dance Smartly (1991), Tiffany's Secret (1990), Tilt My Halo (1988) and Classy 'N Smart (1984). For Frostad, it was his third Oaks win (2000 and 2001 as well), all for Sam-Son.

It was just a year ago that Too Late Now became the first undefeated filly to win the Oaks.

Once again, being the Oaks favorite paid dividends. Eye of the Sphynx, the 4-5 choice, became the seventh consecutive post-time favorite to win and the 27th of 49 overall, a remarkable 55.1%.

For the victory, Eye of the Sphynx picked up $300,000 to boost her bankroll to $588,340.She began her career with a maiden win at Keeneland in April, then took both the Fury (May 9) and Selene (May 23) Stakes at Woodbine prior to Saturday's performance. Her previous wins had all come on off-tracks.

She paid $3.60, $3.10 and $2.20, combining with Touchnow ($13.90, $5.00) for a $45.00 exacta. My Vintage Port paid $4.10 to show.

(Chart, Equibase)