05/11/2003 12:00AM

El Prado Essence captures George C. Hendrie

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - El Prado Essence captured the Grade 3 George C. Hendrie Handicap for the second year in a row at Woodbine Sunday.

Jockey Patrick Husbands had El Prado Essence in a stalking position through the turn in the six and a half-furlong dash. Sheila's Prospect, Miss Sweep and Leading Role dueled through wind-aided fractions of :21.65 and :43.95 seconds, with the latter taking control early in the stretch.

El Prado Essence was angled four wide for the drive, and hit the front at the eighth pole before drawing off to score by four lengths. Leading Role held second, while favored Brass in Pocket was another half-length back in third in the 11-horse field of fillies and mares. The final time was 1:15.66.

"She ran awesome," said trainer Audre Cappuccitti, who owns El Prado Essence in partnership with Gordon Cappuccitti. "I was a little nervous on the backside, because I thought she was going to get boxed in, but she got clear and that was it."

El Prado Essence returned $8.60 as the second choice, and earned $103,770 of the $182,950 purse.