Laugh Track wins the Vigil Stakes.

Laugh Track wins the Vigil Stakes.

Michael Burns

Laugh Track Earns Plaudits in Vigil Triumph

First-time stakes winner knocks off Canada sprint champ Essence Hit Man at Woodbine.

Laugh Track, pushing two-time Canadian sprint champion Essence Hit Man every step of the way, surged in the final strides to register a half-length victory in the $150,415 Vigil Stakes (Can-III) (VIDEO) June 2 at Woodbine.

Ridden by Luis Contreras, Laugh Track completed the seven furlongs on Polytrack in 1:21.85 as the 7-5 second choice in the four-horse field. He secured his first stakes win for trainer Mark Casse and owners Gary Barber and WinStar Farm.

WinStar bred the 4-year-old Distorted Humor  colt in Kentucky from the graded stakes-placed Touch Gold mare Flaming Heart.

Essence Hit Man, the 7-10 favorite as the 125-pound highweight, was looking for a repeat victory in the Vigil while spotting his rivals nine pounds apiece. Breaking alertly under Jesse Campbell, Essence Hit Man went directly to the lead over Burnum and Laugh Track while stepping the opening quarter mile in :23.17.

A fast second quarter, :21.85, may have done in Essence Hit Man, who was a length clear of Laugh Track at the three-eighths pole. Essence Hit Man cut the corner effectively and opened up some daylight on his rival in upper stretch. But Laugh Track was a determined challenger, slowly cutting into the advantage through the drive and getting up under firm handling by Contreras.

Riding Laugh Track for the first time, Contreras was pleased with the trip he engineered.

"I just wanted to stay where the horse wants to be and be patient," said Contreras. "(Essence Hit Man) moved a little early at the quarter pole and that gave me the opportunity to close at the end."

Burnam was 4 1/4 lengths farther back in third, while City Wolf  trailed throughout.

Laugh Track was making his return to Woodbine, where he won two of three tries on the main track last year, in the Vigil. The bay colt rebounded from a fourth-place showing in the Alysheba Stakes (gr. II), his stakes debut May 3 at Churchill Downs, and won for the second time in three starts this year. He began the season with an upset victory April 5 at Keeneland in an allowance/optional claiming test at 6 1/2 furlongs.

"We got him from Norman Casse (Mark's son and assistant trainer) at Churchill and he said the horse had been training really well down there," offered assistant trainer David Adams. "We targeted this race all along and thought he had a good shot."

Laugh Track posted one work at Woodbine since the Alysheba, breezing five furlongs May 20 in 1:00 3/5.

Improving to 4-2-1 in eight lifetime races, Laugh Track extended his earnings to $242,138. All of his wins have come on synthetic surfaces.

Laugh Track paid $4.90 to win and topped an exacta that returned $6.50. There was no place or show wagering.