09/01/2010 12:02PM

Essence Hit Man stretches out in allowance

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Michael Burns
Essence Hit Man will try two turns for the second time when he starts in an allowance race Friday at Woodbine.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – The rapid Essence Hit Man’s only try around two turns was good, and a repeat of that performance would probably be good enough to get the job done in Friday’s headliner, a 1 1/16-mile allowance race for 3-year-olds that serves as a prep for the Sept. 25 Ontario Derby.

Essence Hit Man is unquestionably the leading 3-year-old sprinter at Woodbine. In the spring, he captured the six-furlong Woodstock Stakes with a 93 Beyer Speed Figure and won the seven-furlong Queenston Stakes with a 99 Beyer.

When trainer Audre Cappuccitti stretched Essence Hit Man out to 1 1/16 miles in the May 29 Marine Stakes, the gelding set a moderate pace before fading to third behind talented twosome of Exhi and Hotep.

Essence Hit Man subsequently took the six-furlong Achievement Stakes by a dwindling 1 3/4 lengths, after opening up a substantial lead on the turn. Last time out, in the Grade 2 Amsterdam Stakes at Saratoga, he set sizzling fractions before giving way to Discreetly Mine, who returned to win the Grade 1 King’s Bishop Stakes with determination.

Essence Hit Man figures to be a short price under Chantal Sutherland, and the best alternative to him might be R Shining Hope, who hasn’t missed the board in five starts this year.

R Shining Hope has competed exclusively on the grass since graduating in his season opener on the Polytrack. He garnered black type two starts ago, when third in the one-mile Charlie Barley Stakes, and was a closing second most recently against older opposition in a one-mile optional claimer.

Slade Callaghan will ride R Shining Hope for trainer Nick Gonzalez, a combination that is 2 for 6 at the meet.

Village Drive is making his first start as a gelding following a two-month vacation. He captured a nine-furlong allowance that was taken off the grass June 6 and was a distant fourth three weeks later in the Victoria Park Stakes.

Village Drive has been working quickly for trainer Reade Baker, who has enlisted apprentice Omar Moreno.

Forgetthestorm, who won both of his races on the lead in sprints, will likely be relegated to a stalking position, after breaking from the outside post in the five-horse field. He is the first foal from a stakes-placed sprinter.

Completing the field is Archon, who won his maiden traveling 1 1/16 miles following a nine-month layoff on Aug. 14.