04/25/2010 11:00PM

Essence Hit Man pulls surprise


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Audre Cappuccitti was concerned Essence Hit Man could be up against it in last Sunday's $174,800 Woodstock, his first start since last October.

But Essence Hit Man proved there was nothing to fear, breaking from the inside post in the field of seven 3-year-olds and leading all the way to score a three-quarter-length victory.

"I didn't expect that at all," Cappuccitti said. "I was in shock. I'd said if he ran third or fourth, I'd be happy."

Essence Hit Man, ridden by Chantal Sutherland, got his third win from six starts. He ran six furlongs in 1:08.66 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 94.

Cappucciti is also the co-owner and breeder of Essence Hit Man in partnership with her husband, Gord. She trained Essence Hit Man's dam, El Prado Essence.

"His dam liked seven-eighths, but she didn't like anything farther, and she didn't like turf," said Cappuccitti, who has not kept Essence Hit Man eligible for the Queen's Plate but still has options to supplement. "His one race on turf wasn't good, either, but I think I'll try him one more time."

The $150,000 Queenston, a seven-furlong race here May 15, would be the next logical local target for Essence Hit Man, but Cappuccitti said he has no plans yet.

"He's tired right now," she said.

Two-three horses in Woodstock run big

Trainers Ian Black and Reade Baker also had reasons to be happy after the Woodstock. Black sent out the runner-up, D's Wando, and Baker sent out the third-place finisher, Bear's Hard Ten.

D's Wando, an Ontario-bred making his first start since finishing a close third here in last fall's Coronation Futurity, is a Queen's Plate candidate and entered the Woodstock only after a second-level allowance race failed to fill.

"I thought it was a huge effort," said Black, after watching D's Wando rally under regular rider Emma-Jayne Wilson.

D's Wando is Queenston-bound and could be joined there by stablemate Stormy Lord, who would be making his season debut.

Stormy Lord, another Queen's Plate candidate, breezed five furlongs in 1:01 under jockey Jim McAleney here last Saturday.

Bear's Hard Ten also was rolling late in the Woodstock and was beaten a half-length for the place in his first start since last December. He won the 1 1/16-mile Display in his fourth and final start as a 2-year-old.

Bear's Hard Ten is pointing for the $150,000 Marine, an open 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds here May 29.

Two fillies win their maiden for Tiller

A pair of Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies trained by Bob Tiller scored impressive maiden victories at 5 1/2 furlongs last Saturday.

Making her debut, Are You Kitten Me broke from the No. 1 post in a field of 12 Ontario-sired maidens and was 10th after the opening quarter. But she rolled by her rivals around the turn and through the stretch to score by 2 1/2 lengths under Eurico Rosa da Silva.

"We took a chip out of her ankle last fall," Tiller said. "She has a big, long stride. I knew if she had the heart she was going to run well, and she did. We'll give her a chance to make some money in the Ontario-sired races and be a decent horse."

Tiller had been mildly bullish on Are You Kitten Me's chances, but he showed no such reticence about Amazon Belle, who had finished second in each of her two starts at 2, including a neck defeat after a tough trip in the seven-furlong Muskoka.

"I've always liked her a lot," Tiller said. "She had some 'shins' going into that stake last year and she had the 1-hole, but she showed guts and determination."

Saturday, Amazon Belle rallied to win by five lengths, earning an 86 Beyer.

While she is eligible for the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, a 1 1/8-mile race June 13, Tiller said he would not commit to the race.

"I'm not sure we can get there that quick, going that far," he said. "It can be a different story when you start stretching them out."

Apprentice picks up first Woodbine win

Apprentice jockey Betty Jo Williams won her first race at Woodbine last Friday aboard Sir Heart Throb.

"Winning any race is great, but winning at Woodbine is a different story," she said.

Before coming here, Williams, 20, had won four races since beginning her career at Mountaineer Park last fall.

Born in nearby Orangeville, Williams galloped horses two years ago at Fort Erie, where her father, Robert Williams, trains a small string. She went on to work as an exercise rider for trainer Mark Casse in Ocala and rode in two amateur races at Colonial Downs and Presque Isle Downs before beginning her career in earnest at Mountaineer.

David O'Connor, a longtime friend of the family, is her agent.

Ramsammy gets riding suspension

Emile Ramsammy has been suspended seven racing days through May 8 for his ride aboard Dublin Lane in the seventh race April 18.

Dublin Lane had finished first but was disqualified and placed last. Stewards ruled that Ramsammy had come out with his mount and interfered with outside horses, causing Counter Move and his jockey, Robert Landry, to fall in the vicinity of the quarter pole.

Landry rode the following race but was off his mounts last weekend and will not be active Wednesday.

"He's just stiff, body sore," said Landry's agent, Doug Gibbons. "He just wants to make sure he's 100 percent before he comes back."

Ramsammy rode four winners here Sunday to boost his total to a meet-leading 20.