Essence Hit Man wins the Vigil Stakes.

Essence Hit Man wins the Vigil Stakes.

Michael Burns

Essence Hit Man On Target in Vigil Victory

Champion Canadian sprinter holds off Big Band Sound in seven-furlong Woodbine event.

Champion Canadian sprinter Essence Hit Man earned his second victory of the 2012 Woodbine campaign when he led every step of the way to take the $168,790 Vigil Stakes (Can-III) by three-quarters of a length May 6 (VIDEO).

Jesse Campbell guided Audre and Gordon Cappuccitti's speedy homebred Essence Hit Man to a third consecutive victory. The late-running Big Band Sound finished second and Paso Doble was third in the field of six.

Audre Cappuccitti trains the 5-year-old Ontario-bred son of Speightstown --El Prado Essence, by El Prado.

Essence Hit Man, sent off as the 4-5 favorite in the Vigil, began the year at Woodbine with a front-running 2 3/4-length tally over Big Band Sound in the Jacques Cartier Stakes April 7.

Second in last year's Vigil, Essence Hit Man completed the seven-furlong distance over Polytrack in 1:22.28. That was well off the Polytrack mark of 1:20.07 established by Hollywood Hit in winning the 2010 Vigil.

Essence Hit Man holds Woodbine's six-furlong Polytrack record of 1:08.16 set in winning the 2011 Jacques Cartier.

Breaking from post 5, Essence Hit Man went to the lead and tussled briefly with Signature Red  on his outside before getting control on the backstretch. He led Signature Red and Bear Tough Tiger by 1 1/2 lengths while carving swift early fractions of :22.56 and :45.16, and took a two-length lead into the homestretch.

Essence Hit Man was tough through the lane, opening up by three at mid-stretch before Big Band Sound began to close in. Big Band Sound, ridden by Tyler Pizarro was making up ground on the winner as they reached the wire. Essence Hit Man, despite getting weary in deep stretch, held sway under steady encouragement from Campbell.

"He was better loading, he was better in the gate and he was able to get off to a better start,” said Campbell, who has partnered the chestnut in his three-race win streak. “He’s a tired boy today. He knows where that wire is at. He ran hard.”

Big Band Sound was second by 2 1/2 lengths over Paso Doble, ridden by Patrick Husbands. Signature Red, the 122-pound high weight, and Bear Tough Tiger were next. No Hesitation, who trailed throughout, was eased late.

Essence Hit Man, who won the Kennedy Road Stakes (Can-III) last November to sew up honors as Canada's leading male sprinter, collected his second graded victory in the Vigil while earning $108,508. He has seven black-type victories at Woodbine since 2010 during a career that includes nine wins overall from 20 starts and earnings of $946,722.

Carrying 120 pounds, Essence Hit Man paid $3.70, $2.80, and $2.10, He topped a $17.40 exacta with 7-1 shot Big Band Sound, who returned $6.10 and $3.10. Paso Doble, who was also third in the Jacques Cartier, paid $2.80 to show.

Something Extra was a stewards' scratch.