05/26/2010 11:00PM

Essence Hit Man gets chance to go long


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Following Essence Hit Man's victory here at Woodbine in the Queenston Stakes, trainer Audre Cappuccitti had discounted the prospects of the gelding going on to the Queen's Plate. But Cappuccitti has reconsidered and will at least try the next stepping-stone on the road to the Queen's Plate, entering Essence Hit Man in Saturday's 1 1/16-mile Marine.

"I've driven myself crazy all week," said Cappuccitti, who also is the co-owner and breeder of Essence Hit Man with her husband, Gord. "I've tossed it around so much about trying him around two turns. I finally thought that I'd feel bad if I tried it in September and found out he could do it. Now's the time to try it; either he can or he can't. There's no crystal ball.

"It's only a mile and a sixteenth, and it's the only thing there for him. He finished good last time at seven furlongs."

Essence Hit Man, a confirmed front runner, captured the six-furlong Woodstock in his first start in six months here April 25. On May 15, in the seven-furlong Queenston, Essence Hit Man was a six-length winner under regular rider Chantal Sutherland.

The two weeks between starts is a concern for Cappuccitti, but the prospect of waiting for the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial on June 13 had even less appeal.

"I'd love it if he had three weeks, at least," said Cappuccitti. "But I wouldn't want to go into the Plate Trial; it's too close [to the Queen's Plate], and too long."

The $150,000 Plate Trial will be run over 1 1/8 miles, followed by the $1 million Queen's Plate at 1 1/4 miles on July 4.

Siblings run in back-to-back races

The Cappuccittis will be looking to pull off an interesting double here Saturday when Essence Thunder, a 4-year-old half-brother to Essence Hit Man, goes in the race following the Marine.

Essence Thunder will be competing in a $20,000 claimer for nonwinners of two going 1 1/16 miles with Patrick Husbands getting the call. He has run three times this season, sandwiching third-place finishes in sprints around a fifth-place finish at 1 1/16 miles.

"He's getting better, but I think it's a little bit quick back for him," said Cappuccitti, noting that Essence Thunder's last start came on May 21. "I think he loves seven furlongs, and Patrick thinks he'll be better at a mile and a sixteenth."