07/19/2012 6:31AM

Woodbine: Essence Hit Man digs in to hold off Eternal Rule in Bold Venture Stakes

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Essence Hit Man was the champ, but favored Eternal Rule had never lost. The two gifted sprinters dueled through the stretch Wednesday night at Woodbine in $174,900 Bold Venture Stakes, with Essence Hit Man coming out on top in the Grade 3 test.

Essence Hit Man ($5.90) was hounded up front by longshot Executive Five in the 6 1/2-furlong dash, while Eternal Rule had a stalking trip under Eurico Da Silva. Eternal Rule joined Essence Hit Man on the lead in mid-stretch, and seemed poised to edge away, but Essence Hit Man dug in late to prevail by a head, in 1:15.82.

Shippers Bergerac and Lonesome Street finished third and fourth, respectively, in the five-horse field.

Jessie Campbell had his choice of Essence Hit Man and Eternal Rule, whom he rode in a recent stakes victory at Presque Isle Downs. Going into the race, he said he chose Essence Hit Man because of the experience factor.

“He reached for that wire so hard,” Campbell said. “He was very impressive, and so was the horse that ran second. They threw it down. That’s a horse race, right there. What a treat for Wednesday night racing.”

Essence Hit Man, Canada’s reigning champion sprinter, collected $108,000 for the partnership of Gord Cappuccitti and trainer Audre Cappuccitti.