Essence Hit Man Shoots for Vigil Victory

Canada's champion sprinter Essence Hit Man looks for his second victory of the year in the $150,000 Vigil Stakes (Can-III) at Woodbine May 6.

The speedy 5-year-old son of Speightstown  faces six opponents in the seven-furlong Vigil, race 8 on the Toronto-area track's card. Probable post for the Polytrack event is 4:49 p.m. EDT.

An Ontario homebred for Audre and Gordon Cappuccitti and trained by Audre Cappuccitti, Essence Hit Man carries a two-race win streak into the Vigil. He wrapped up last year's Sovereign Award as the nation's leading male sprinter by winning the Kennedy Road Stakes (Can-III) in easy gate-to-wire fashion last November.

In his first start of 2012, the chestnut gelding took the Jacques Cartier Stakes at six furlongs in front-running style by nearly three lengths as the 9-5 choice April 7. He has breezed twice at five-eighths over Woodbine's Polytrack since then, recording identical times of 1:01 flat.

Jesse Campbell remains aboard Essence Hit Man, who ran second to Stunning Stag in last year's Vigil. They will break from post 5 with 120 pounds. Essence Hit Man owns a career mark of 8-4-3 in 19 starts, all at Woodbine, with earnings of $850,261.

The 124-pound high weight under allowance conditions is Bear Tough Tiger, making his stakes debut for Bear Stables and trainer Reade Baker. A 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding by Roar of the Tiger, Bear Tough Tiger has won four of five lifetime starts. His only defeat came by a nose in an allowance/optional claiming race at Woodbine in November. Bear Tough Tiger drew the rail and will be ridden by Quincy Welch.

Six-year-old Signature Red , a veteran of 25 races for trainer Sid Attard, makes his seasonal debut. He was third in the Kennedy Road in his most recent start. Norseman Racing Stable's son of Bernstein won the six-furlong Highlander Stakes (Can-II) last year after finishing third in the Vigil. Signature Red starts from the far outside with Luis Contreras aboard. He comes into the race with a 6-6-7 record and earnings of $639,384.

Also in the Vigil field are Big Band Sound, Paso Doble, and Something Extra, who ran second, third, and fourth, respectively, behind Essence Hit Man in the Jacques Cartier. Paso Doble, from the Mark Casse barn, won a pair of restricted stakes at Woodbine last year and was sixth as the favorite in last fall's Kennedy Road.

$150,000 Vigil Stakes (Can-III, race 8, 4:49 p.m.), 4 & Up, 7 Furlongs (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Bear Tough Tiger (FL), Q Welch, 124, R Baker
2. Paso Doble (KY), P Husbands, 118, M E Casse
3. Something Extra (KY), J McAleney, 116, G Cox
4. No Hesitation (CA), E Wilson, 116, J Meyaard
5. Essence Hit Man (ON), J M Campbell, 120, A Cappuccitti
6. Big Band Sound (KY), T Pizarro, 116, D J Vella
7. Signature Red (KY), L Contreras, 122, S C Attard