11/17/2011 1:55PM

Woodbine: Essence Hit Man tries to improve stamina in Kennedy Road


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Essence Hit Man probably is the quickest horse on the grounds through the opening furlongs.

And although Essence Hit Man has not made his speed stand up since opening the Woodbine meeting with a victory in the six-furlong Jacques Cartier, his trainer, Audre Cappuccitti, has been doing some tinkering and will be looking to reverse that trend in Saturday’s six-furlong Kennedy Road.

“We’ll try to change some equipment,” said Cappuccitti, who sent out Essence Hit Man to breeze four furlongs in 48.20 seconds here last Sunday under jockey Jesse Campbell.

Essence Hit Man, who also is owned and was bred by Cappuccitti in partnership with her husband, Gordon Cappuccitti, last saw action in the six-furlong allowance prep for the Kennedy Road on Oct. 30.

With Campbell in the irons for the first time, Essence Hit Man zipped through his opening quarter in 21.94 and his half in 43.98 but faltered in deep stretch to finish second, beaten 3 1/4 lengths by fellow Kennedy Road contestant Paso Doble.

“He’s just so wicked fast; he’s not an easy horse to ride,” said Cappuccitti. “You don’t want to strangle him; you can’t choke him.

“If we can just get out, maybe get a little breather on the turn, maybe he’ll have something left in the stretch.”

Essence Hit Man was making just his fifth start of the season in the Kennedy Road prep after missing the King Corrie, a six-furlong overnight stakes here Sept. 21.

“It was a big mistake,” said Cappuccitti, noting that the King Corrie had been carded with five entrants and gone with just four starters.

“But, he was already on the farm. I’d been working him and working him, galloping him and breezing him. I didn’t want to break him down, and I wasn’t sure if that race would go.”

Gypsy Ring switches surfaces

Gypsy Ring, who is coming off a close third-place finish here in the Grade 1 Nearctic over six furlongs of yielding turf, will be returning to the main track for the Kennedy Road.

Bred, owned, and trained by Paul Buttigieg, Gypsy Ring will sport the best last-out company line of any horse in the race as winner Regally Ready has returned to capture the five-furlong Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

And while five of his six outings this year have come on the turf, Gypsy Ring became a stakes winner in the seven-furlong Overskate on the main track and is equally effective on that surface.

“He’s sharp; he’s as good as he’s been all year,” said Buttigieg. “I’d like it better going 6 1/2 but I don’t mind the three-quarters.”

Buttigieg also has designs on several upcoming stakes at the meeting with True Executive slated for the Nov. 26 Kingarvie, The Boy’s Ring a prospect for the Nov. 30 Sir Barton, and Memories Last Love pointing for the Dec. 3 Ontario Lassie.

All three horses are homebreds and will be seeking their first stakes scores.

True Executive was an impressive winner of his five-furlong debut here Oct. 10 and then finished second to the more experienced Jenna’s Wabbit in the seven-furlong Frost King for Ontario-sired 2-year-olds.

The $125,000 Kingarvie, also restricted to offspring of registered Ontario sires, will be conducted at 1 1/16 miles.

“I don’t think that will be a problem,” said Buttigieg, of the new distance. “I always said this was going to be a good horse.”

The Boy’s Ring, who like Gypsy Ring is a 5-year-old gelding by Where’s the Ring, has raced 20 times but would be making his two-turn debut in the 1 1/16 mile Sir Barton for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward.

“I’m looking at it,” said Buttigieg, who sent out The Boy’s Ring to finish second when racing without the tag in a third-level optional $80,000 claimer at 6 1/2 furlongs last time out. “I’m not sure yet.”

Memories Last Love, an Ontario-sired 2-year-old filly, won her debut at 5 1/2 furlongs and then finished fifth in the six-furlong Fanfreluche for Ontario-foals.

In her third and most recent appearance, Memories Last Love ended a closing second in the restricted South Ocean at 1 1/16 miles.

“She’ll run all day, that one,” said Buttigieg, who would be sending out Memories Last Love to compete over the same distance in the Ontario Lassie.

Maiden winner opts for allowance

Buttigieg has another interesting prospect in Royal Egbert, who earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 84 when winning his maiden by five lengths in his third career start.

Royal Egbert, a 3-year-old gelding, was nominated to the Kennedy Road but will instead appear in a six-furlong allowance for Ontario-sired nonwinners of two.

“He’s a nice horse,” said Buttigieg. “He won impressively.”

Magnusson wins first stakes since 1995

Glenn Magnusson can boast of one distinction which not many other trainers here can claim, as he won a Queen’s Plate with Driving Home in 1981. But heading into Wednesday night’s program Magnusson had not visited the stakes winner’s circle since he sent out Northern Hilite to win the Nandi here in 1995.

That drought ended when Athena Rose, a homebred who races for races for Robert and Patricia Weber, prevailed by a neck under rider Steven Bahen in the $150,000 Jammed Lovely for Ontario-foaled 3-year-old fillies.

“It’s been a long time,” acknowledged the 82-year-old Magnusson, at the barn here Thursday morning. “As long as you breathe, there’s hope.”

Athena Rose was making her 17th career start and 12th of the season in the Jammed Lovely but had only graduated from the maiden ranks in her most recent outing.

“I was getting a little concerned,” said Magnusson. “But, I always knew she could run. I persevered.”

In her first 10 starts this season, Athena Rose had finished second twice and third on five occasions.

“I think she’s been showing herself up all along,” said Magnusson. “She’s been pretty solid. She hooked every beast in the country as a maiden.

“The only time she didn’t run well was her first time on Lasix; that didn’t work at all. I’d thought she’d better have it, getting into the heat of the summer. She’s been fine since then.”

Athena Rose, who boosted her earnings past the $200,000 mark with her score in the seven-furlong Jammed Lovely, is through for this season and will winter on the nearby farm of her owner/breeders.

But her half-sister, Pennywhistle, will be looking to give Magnusson a double of sorts when she runs in a $12,500 maiden race here Saturday.

“She hasn’t run in a year and a half,” said Magnusson. “She’s all right. She’s just a horse.”