Essence Hit Man showed what champions are made of when he staved off the equally determined challenger Eternal Rule through the long Woodbine homestretch to win the $172,801 Bold Venture Stakes (Can-III) on the night of July 18 (VIDEO).
Though just five contested the 6 1/2-furlong Polytrack event, Essence Hit Man, ridden by Jesse Campbell, and Eternal Rule, with Eurico Da Silva at the controls, put on quite a show. Final time was 1:15.82, a second off the track mark of 1:14.54 established by Fatal Bullet in 2008.
"He reached for that wire so hard today," said Campbell. "What a treat for a Wednesday night race. These horses threw it down today. That's a horse race, right there."
Essence Hit, last year's Canadian champion sprinter, prevailed by a head. He held tenaciously to the early lead over Executive Five while staking an opening quarter mile of :22.08 and a half in :44.49. Essence Hit Man took control briefly in upper stretch but Eternal Rule, racing in third earlier, attacked on the outside to draw close a furlong from home. Eternal Rule, unbeaten in five previous races, was a willing finisher but he could not get by Essence Hit Man.
Audre and Gordon Cappuccitti bred and own Essence Hit Man, and Audre Cappuccitti trains the 5-year-old gelding by Speightstown out of El Prado Essence, by El Prado. Essence Hit Man won for the third time in four starts this season, his only loss coming in a fine runner-up effort on the grass to the streaking Smokey Fire in the Highlander Stakes (Can-IIT) June 24.
Essence Hit Man won the Jacques Cartier and Kennedy Road (Can-III) stakes in 2011 while also placing twice from six starts. He finished fourth in last year's Bold Venture. The chestnut has won four of his past six races with two seconds.
The victory boosted Essence Hit Man's career earnings to $1,112,965 from a record of 19-5-3 in 22 starts.
Sent off as the 19-10 second choice, Essence Hit Man carried top weight of 124 pounds and paid $5.90, $2.90, and $2.50.
The Sid Attard-trained Eternal Rule, who carried 121 pounds, returned $2.60 and $2.10 as the 6-5 choice.
Bergerac, 1 1/4 lengths farther back in third after rallying from last in the lane for Alex Solis, was $3 to show. Lonesome Street and Executive Five trailed.