04/20/2011 12:44PM

Essence Hit Man on track at Woodbine

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Michael Burns
Essence Hit Man won the Jacques Cartier, and now heads to the Vigil.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Last spring, trainer Audre Cappuccitti feared that Essence Hit Man might not be up to the task when he made his seasonal bow in the Woodstock. Essence Hit Man not only won that race but doubled up in the Queenston, took the six-furlong Achievement here in July, and finished second in Saratoga’s Grade 2, 6 1/2-furlong Amsterdam in August en route to finishing second in the Sovereign Award voting in the male sprinter category.

And while Cappuccitti again had qualms when she saddled Essence Hit Man for his seasonal bow here in last Sunday’s six-furlong Jacques Cartier, the result was the same as the gelding led throughout for a two-length victory under rider Patrick Husbands.

“I truly felt he wasn’t ready for those guys,” said Cappuccitti, who also is the owner and breeder of Essence Hit Man in partnership with her husband, Gordon. “And the weight – 124 pounds! He was giving away up to nine pounds. But what impressed me the most was his gallop-out.”

All remaining well, Essence Hit Man will swing back in three weeks for the Grade 3 Vigil, a seven-furlong race worth $150,000.

After the May 8 Vigil, the only scheduled main-track sprint stakes for the open division here are the 6 1/2-furlong Bold Venture on July 20 and the six-furlong Kennedy Road on Nov. 19. That leaves Cappuccitti with the options of going on the road or trying Essence Hit Man here on turf.

“If I could get him to turf, he wouldn’t have to go anywhere,” said Cappuccitti, who sent out Essence Hit Man to finish seventh in the seven-furlong prep for the Summer Stakes in his only try on grass during his 2-year-old campaign. “I’ll wait until they start breezing on the turf, and try him.”

The Grade 2, six-furlong Highlander on June 26 would be a logical target if Essence Hit Man does take to the turf.