05/16/2010 11:00PM

Queen's Plate unlikely for Essence Hit Man


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Last Saturday's Queenston was billed as an important stepping-stone to the July 4 Queen's Plate.

But when the dust had cleared, it was Essence Hit Man, who currently is not nominated to the Queen's Plate and is not considered a likely participant, who stole the show in the $150,400 Queenston for Ontario-foaled 3-year-olds.

"He ran great, really," said Audre Cappuccitti, who trains Essence Hit Man and is his co-owner and breeder in partnership with her husband, Gord

With Chantal Sutherland in the irons, Essence Hit Man got away with a soft opening quarter of 23.38 seconds and never looked back en route to six-length tour de force in the seven-furlong Queenston.

Essence Hit Man's final clocking of 1:20.97 was good for a Beyer Speed Figure of 100.

"People have been calling me, to see if I'll go in the Plate, but I really don't think so," Cappuccitti said. "A lot of good sprinters have run in the Plate before, and it never worked out for them."

Essence Hit Man, who is by Speightstown out of the talented Cappuccitti runner El Prado Essence, registered his second sprint stakes score in as many starts this season.

In his first start in more than six months, Essence Hit Man had shown the way throughout the six-furlong Woodstock and held sway by three-quarters of a length over a closing D's Wando.

"Running off the bench is tough enough, never mind running him in a stakes," Cappucciti said. "He got a little tired, but it did him a lot of good."

With the next sprint stakes for 3-year-olds here being the six-furlong Achievement on July 3, Cappuccitti may be forced to experiment.

"I'd like to try him at a mile, or maybe a mile and a sixteenth," she said. "I am going to try him one more time on turf."

Essence Hit Man showed speed but weakened to finish seventh in his lone turf outing, which came in the seven-furlong prep for the Summer here last Aug. 28.

Hollinger tires in Queenston

Hollinger, the odds-on choice in the Queenston, suffered his first defeat when finishing fourth, 7 1/4 lengths behind the winner while making his first start in more than six months.

"He got tired," trainer Roger Attfield said.

"It was a very tough race to come back in. I didn't want him that close early, but the first quarter wasn't that fast, and he was going to be sharp anyway.

"I hate to see an undefeated horse get beat, but he would have got something out of it. It wasn't the end of the world."

Attfield had hoped to get a start into Hollinger at Keeneland but lost some time with the colt over the winter

"As far as the Plate is concerned, it's just a timing thing now," Attfield said. "I'll see how he trains back; it might change my plan a little bit."

Hollinger is nominated to the Marine, an open 1 1/16-mile race here May 29. The 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial goes June 13, three weeks prior to the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate.

Ghost Fleet, D's Wando to Plate Trial

Ghost Fleet, also coming off a layoff, closed from fifth place to finish second in the Queenston.

Ghost Fleet, like Hollinger, had made his last appearance here in the Nov. 8 Coronation Futurity, where he ended fourth in a blanket finish.

"I was very pleased with the way he ran, with that kind of pace," trainer Sid Attard said.

"He'll wait for the Plate Trial now."

Stormy Lord and D's Wando, who had finished second and third behind Hollinger in the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity, both contested the Queenston for trainer Ian Black.

D's Wando, with the Woodstock under his belt, fared the better of the pair as he came from last place to finish three-quarters of a length behind Ghost Fleet.

"I was very happy," Black said. "He closed, which is what were trying to do. I think the winner is a very good sprinter, and we certainly weren't going to beat him after that first quarter."

D's Wando is headed for the Plate Trial.

Stormy Lord, beaten 12 3/4 lengths as the last-place finisher in the Queenston, is more of a question mark.

"I thought he was within striking distance early," Black said.

"I'm a little bemused. He might be a little better going further, when they're going slower early."

Tribal Belle finishes strong

Tribal Belle, coming off a campaign that earned her the inaugural Sovereign Award as Canada's champion female sprinter, was back on her beat here in Sunday's Grade 3, $155,500 Hendrie.

Making her first start in almost five months, Tribal Belle had dropped a nose decision as the runner-up in the Whimsical at six furlongs here April 18.

In the 6 1/2-furlong Hendrie, Tribal Belle benefited from a speed duel behind favored invader Dr. Zic and local Silver Z before coming on for a 1 1/4-length score under regular rider Jim McAleney.

"When there's enough pace, she'll settle very comfortably," McAleney said. "She finished so strong. She's a big, strong, very impressive mare."

Terry Jordan, who trains the homebred Tribal Belle for the Canvasback Farm of Mark Wilshire, had been serving a suspension when the mare made her seasonal bow for trainer Danny O'Callaghan.

"She was a better horse this time," Jordan said. "Now that she'd had a start, she didn't have any trouble beating these horses."

Although main-track sprint opportunities here for Tribal Belle are far from plentiful, Jordan is not inclined to experiment.

"When you get one running good, why change it?," said Jordan, who watched Tribal Belle finish out of the money in two two-turn races here in 2008 and third in her only turf outing.

"We tried running her long, and that didn't work out. And, she's a timid horse. The turf here puts her too close to the people."

Tribal Belle earned a 94 Beyer for her effort in the Grade 3 Hendrie, which was the 11th win in her 17-start career and boosted her earnings to $628,580.