04/08/2011 1:31PM

Woodbine: Essence Hit Man to start season in Jacques Cartier

Michael Burns
Essence Hit Man will start his 4-year-old season in next Sunday’s Jacques Cartier Stakes.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Essence Hit Man, second best to Hollywood Hit in the Sovereign Award voting for champion male sprinter of 2010, should be looking to turn the tables on the racetrack here in next Sunday’s $150,000 Jacques Cartier.

With Fatal Bullet, Canada’s Horse of the Year and champion male sprinter of 2009, also set to compete, the six-furlong Jacques Cartier should be the race of the young meeting.

“He just turned 4, and he’s got to go with all those older horses,” said trainer Audre Cappuccitti, who also bred Essence Hit Man and is a co-owner in partnership with her husband, Gord.

“But he’s got to start now. There aren’t that many races for him here.”

Essence Hit Man, a gelding by the speedy Speightstown out of the talented Cappuccitti mare El Prado Essence, won the six-furlong Woodstock and seven-furlong Queenston while stamping himself as the top 3-year-old sprinter on the grounds here last spring.

After finishing third while stretching out to 1 1/16 miles for the Marine in a test to gauge his chances at the Queen’s Plate, Essence Hit Man returned to his preferred milieu to win the six-furlong Achievement.

Essence Hit Man then shipped to Saratoga, where he was a well-beaten but impressive second after setting a blistering pace in the Grade 2 Amsterdam at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Back home, he rounded out his campaign with a third-place finish in an open allowance race at one mile and 70 yards and a third behind Hollywood Hit and Tend in the six-furlong King Corrie, which was his first attempt against older rivals.

“He only had races up until July last year,” Cappuccitti said. “I ran him long and against older, just to keep him going.”

Following the King Corrie, Essence Hit Man went to nearby Huntington Stud Farm to unwind and then headed south to Florida’s Classic Mile Farm in late fall.

“I started him up there in mid-February,” Cappuccitti said. “He did really well down there. He got back here three weeks ago.”

Essence Hit Man has breezed twice since his return, getting five furlongs in 59.60 seconds on March 29 and six furlongs in 1:15.20 last Tuesday. Cappuccitti is planning another five-furlong workout for her stable star early this week.

With Essence Hit Man’s regular rider, Chantal Sutherland, having decided to keep her tack in California this year, Patrick Husbands is scheduled to pick up the mount for the Jacques Cartier.

Fatal Bullet also will have a new rider, with Luis Contreras replacing Eurico Rosa Da Silva.

Meanwhile, Hollywood Hit breezed four furlongs in 50.20 here Friday morning under a strong hold by exercise rider Richard Cloutier.

Top Pit Boss to start year in Woodstock

Other Cappuccitti runners who wintered at Classic Mile were Top Pit Boss, Whippit, and Euro Platinum.

Top Pit Boss, who wound up his first campaign with a close fourth-place finish here in the Grade 3 Grey at 1 1/16 miles, is scheduled to begin his sophomore campaign in next Saturday’s $150,000 Woodstock.

“He wants more than three-quarters, but we’re going to give it a try,” Cappuccitti said. “I kind of like him, and the barn’s crazy about him.”

Top Pit Boss, an Ontario foal who was purchased for $11,000 at the local select yearling sale, won his maiden over six furlongs on turf and finished second in the seven-furlong Simcoe while starting seven times last year.

Whippit, also Ontario-foaled and purchased at the same sale for $11,000, raced seven times without a win at 2, but Cappuccitti was far from discouraged.

“I have a gut feeling about Whippit,” she said.

“I ran him in different places – turf, long, short, in three stakes – and I think he was just trying to get it together. I think he’s going to be a nice, handy horse. He has a big, awesome stride.

“I’d like to break his maiden and then see where we’re going with him.”

Euro Platinum, unraced at 2, capped her 3-year-old campaign with a 40-1 score when making her 12th start of the season in the Nov. 17 Jammed Lovely at seven furlongs.

“She had a little extra time off, because she ran late in the year,” Cappuccitti said.

The first stakes race for the local filly and mare division is the April 23 Whimsical, a six-furlong race that offers Grade 3 status and a purse of $150,000, but Euro Platinum was not among the nominees.

“I’m not sure that I want to run her six furlongs,” Cappuccitti said. “I haven’t really got anything planned for her.”

Kevin Attard, Knob Hill part ways

Kevin Attard, who has been training for Knob Hill Stable since 2006, will no longer have that owner in his public stable this year.

But Attard still has the stock to fill 20 stalls here for owners, including Dom Romeo and Elizabeth and Gordon Lickrish.

“I have a lot of Ontario-sired horses, which is good,” said the 35-year-old Attard, who took a brief break over the winter before setting up shop here Feb. 9.

Attard trained stakes winners Alezzandro, Bucephalus, Leonnatus Anteas, Nicki Knew, and Siwa during his time with Knob Hill.

Josie Carroll took over as the trainer of the Knob Hill outfit during the off-season.

Woodbine runners entered at Keeneland

Ernfold and Exclusive Love, a pair of stakes-placed 4-year-old fillies who were based here last year, have been entered in a second-level allowance race over one mile of turf at Keeneland on Sunday.

Canadian-bred and trained by Roger Attfield, Ernfold finished second to Canada’s eventual Horse of the Year Biofuel here in the 1 1/16 mile La Lorgnette.

Exclusive Love, bred in Kentucky and trained by Mark Casse, finished a close second to the Attfield-trained Perfect Shirl in the Grade 2 Lake George over 1 1/16 miles of turf at Saratoga.

Woodbine scraps 2-furlong juvenile races

Woodbine, which has carded two-furlong races for 2-year-olds at the past three meetings, will not be offering the dashes this year.

“They weren’t filling as well as they did when they first started, and I got the feeling from most trainers that they’d rather not run the quarter-mile,” said Steve Lym, racing secretary and a director of racing for the Woodbine Entertainment Group.

The first 2-year-old races of the meeting, at 4 1/2 furlongs, have been penciled in for the first weekend of May.