07/16/2012 1:44PM

Woodbine: Top sprinters Essence Hit Man, Eternal Rule square off in Bold Venture

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Lori Zelepsky/Coady Photography
Eternal Rule (above) will face Essence Hit Man in Wednesday's Grade 3 Bold Venture at Woodbine.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Woodbine’s top two sprinters, Essence Hit Man and Eternal Rule, will clash over 6 1/2 furlongs Wednesday night in the $150,000 Bold Venture, which was promoted to a Grade 3 stakes this year.

Essence Hit Man, Canada’s reigning champion sprinter, hasn’t been worse than second since last year’s Bold Venture, in which he faded to fourth after setting rapid fractions. He began this campaign by capturing two Polytrack stakes, the Jacques Cartier and Grade 3 Vigil.

Most recently on the grass in the Grade 2 Highlander Stakes, Essence Hit Man carved out fast splits before giving way to Smokey Fire, but he held on for second under Jesse Campbell.

“I thought it was one of the better races that he’s run with me,” Campbell said. “I know we didn’t win, but I was impressed with everything – how he handled the turf. Obviously, it was much faster than we wanted to go, but they were chasing me pretty hard. That’s his game, so you let him do his thing. If they’d given me any kind of breather, I think he could have won.”

Because of the experience factor, Campbell said he chose Essence Hit Man over the unbeaten Eternal Rule, whom he guided to victory in the June 20 Karl Boyes Memorial Stakes at Presque Isle Downs.

Eternal Rule, a lightly raced 4-year-old trained by Sid Attard, came from second to win the 5 1/2-furlong Boyes by 2 1/4 lengths over millionaire Ravalo. Campbell said he was impressed with the gelding’s performance over the Tapeta surface, for which he got a 103 Beyer Speed Figure.

“The first thing I told Sid when I got back is that I think there’s more in the tank here,” Campbell recalled. “I think this horse has got some raw talent that hasn’t really come out yet. He does things easy.”

Attard also felt that he hasn’t gotten to the bottom of Eternal Rule, who took the six-furlong Achievement Stakes here last July.

“He’s still green,” Attard said. “I like the way Jesse Campbell handled him. He’s better off coming from a little [off the pace]. One thing about him, he doesn’t like to lose.”

Attard has given the call to Eurico Da Silva, who has worked Eternal Rule twice leading up to the Bold Venture.

“I was shocked the way he worked last Wednesday,” Attard recalled. “I couldn’t believe it. I said don’t go too fast or too slow. He went three-quarters in 1:11 and change. He kicked on [strongly] the last quarter on his own.”

Two shippers from the United States, Bergerac and Lonesome Street, also are in the tiny field, along with Executive Five, who was supplemented for $3,000.