Essence Hit Man won the 2012 Vigil Stakes.

Essence Hit Man won the 2012 Vigil Stakes.

Michael Burns

Just 3 to Challenge Essence Hit Man in Vigil

Two-time Canadian champion sprinter looks for repeat in seven-furlong Woodbine test.

Just three opponents are signed on to face two-time Canadian champion sprinter Essence Hit Man as he pursues a repeat victory in the $150,000 Vigil Stakes (Can-III) June 2 at Woodbine.

Essence Hit Man will carry top weight of 125 pounds, spotting his rivals in the seven-furlong Vigil nine pounds apiece. The race, contested over Polytrack, is the third on Sunday's Woodbine program with a scheduled post time of 1:57 p.m. EDT.

The speedy 6-year-old son of Speightstown  began the season with a front-running four-length score in the April 27 Jacques Cartier Stakes, which he won for the third straight year. The chestnut gelding now races for A&G Racing Stable and trainer Sylvain Pion following the death of Audre Cappuccitti, co-owner/breeder and former trainer of Essence Hit Man, in November.

An 11-time victor from 25 lifetime starts, Ontario-bred Essence Hit Man has earned more than $1.2 million. The Woodbine Polytrack record holder for six furlongs, he won last year's Vigil by three-quarters of a length in his usual front-running style after finishing second in the race in 2011.

Regular rider Jesse Campbell will guide Essence Hit Man from post 3.

Graded stakes winner City Wolf  makes his seasonal debut for Stronach Stables and trainer Reade Baker after going winless in six starts in 2012. The homebred 6-year-old son of Giant's Causeway  has not been out since finishing sixth in the 1 1/16-mile Autumn Stakes (Can-III) Nov. 10. Though he is accustomed to longer distances, he graduated going seven furlongs over Woodbine's Polytrack in May 2011. Emma-Jayne Wilson has the call.

Laugh Track, from the Mark Casse barn for Gary Barber and WinStar Farm, cuts back in distance following a fourth-place showing in his most recent start, the 1 1/16-mile Alysheba Stakes (gr. II) May 3 at Churchill Downs. That was the stakes debut for the 4-year-old Distorted Humor  colt. He began the year with a victory in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance test on the Keeneland Polytrack April 5. Luis Contreras will be aboard the bay for the first time.

James Redekop's lightly raced Burnum makes his stakes bow off a first-level allowance victory at six furlongs May 4 for trainer Sam Di Pasquale. The Florida-bred 4-year-old Roar of the Tiger colt took five starts last year before graduating in October on the Woodbine turf and brings a two-race win streak into the Vigil.

$150,000 Vigil Stakes (Can-III, Race 3, 1:57 p.m.), 4 & Up, 7 Furlongs (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Burnum (FL), J Stein, 116, S Di Pasquale
2. City Wolf (KY), E Wilson, 116, S Smullen
3. Essence Hit Man (ON), J M Campbell, 125, S Pion
4. Laugh Track (KY), L Contreras, 116, M E Casse