Employing a gallant final surge, unbeaten Eye of the Sphynx overcame a determined Silver Bird to win Sunday's $275,000 Selene Stakes (Can-II) for 3-year-old fillies by a neck at Woodbine.The daughter of Smart Strike, with Todd Kabel in the irons, appeared to have been beaten while racing on the inside, but came back in the final jumps to gain the all-out victory, her third in a row.It was the second time in a row that Sam-Son Farm's Eye of the Sphynx and Jim McAlpine's Silver Bird went hoof-to-hoof. The running time was 1:48.28 for 1 1/16 miles over a "sloppy" main track.Sent off at odds of 1-5, Eye of the Sphynx kept her undefeated record intact, but it wasn't exactly a given according to her rider."I was a little worried, she was getting tired," said Kabel, of the Ontario-bred, who defeated Silver Bird by 3 ¼-lengths in the Star Shoot Stakes on May 9 at the Toronto oval. "She's determined and fought back hard. She wanted to win the race."Ontheqt, under Rui Pimentel, took charge early, taking the six-horse field (My Vintage Port was scratched) through opening fractions of :22.97, :47.82 and three-quarters in 1:13.73. Kabel, who was also aboard Eye of the Sphynx for the Star Shoot score, kept his filly rated just off the leader on the outside, waiting for the ideal moment to make a move.Rounding the final turn for home, Kabel called upon Eye of the Sphynx for her best run, giving way to jockey Jim McAleney and a hard-charging Silver Bird in deep stretch, before reclaiming the lead along the inside."She's a wonderful filly," said trainer Mark Frostad, who picked up his first Selene crown. "She's had a lot thrown at her in a hurry, but she'll really appreciate the three weeks off before the (Labatt Woodbine) Oaks."
The victory, worth $165,000, boosts Eye of the Sphynx's lifetime bankroll to $288,340. The Oaks, Canadian Thoroughbred racing's premier event for homebred 3-year-old fillies, is on June 13.The bay could also have a date in the Queen's Plate June 27. She was recently supplemented for a possible run in the there. "We'll just have to see how she handles the next step (Oaks)," offered Frostad. "I'm not worried about the Plate at this time. We did it (Plate nomination) because it was the prudent thing to do."She paid $2.50, $2.20 and $2.10, combining with Silver Bird ($3 and $2.70) for a $5.40 exacta. Sweet Problem ($4.60) rounded out a $23 trifecta.(Chart, Equibase)