Essence Hit Man won the $169,200 Jacques Cartier Stakes for the third year in a row with a powerful front-running performance on Saturday, at Woodbine.
Trained by Sylvain Pion and ridden by Jesse Campbell for owners A&G Racing Stable, Essence Hit Man, racing without his customary blinkers, was relaxed out of the gate notching a quarter in :22.33 and a half in :45.02 with Bear Tough Tiger pinned to his flank.
Campbell asked Essence Hit Man for more at the top of the lane and the six-year-old Speightstown gelding acquiesced opening up to win by four lengths, in 1:08.83. Bear Tough Tiger held on for place by a length over a rallying Upgrade.
Campbell was pleased with the pre-race disposition of Essence Hit Man, who was recently named Canada’s champion sprinter for the second year in a row.
“I’ve never seen this horse act the way he acted in post (parade), and all for the good,” said Campbell. “He was a calm customer today, very well behaved in the gate. I had no concerns leaving the gate and I know third or fourth jump he’s going to be on his way.”
Campbell is hopeful that Essence Hit Man, a horse capable of putting up a :21 quarter and a :44 half, will continue to be as relaxed throughout the 2013 meet.
“I’d rather him be like that, I don’t need him to leave in :21,” said Campbell. “He’s quick when you need him.”
It was an emotional result for the connections with the passing of Audre Cappuccitti, co-owner/breeder and former trainer of Essence Hit Man, last November.
“The way he ran makes it emotional,” said Campbell. “He’s a champ.”
A claim of foul by Justin Stein, the jockey of Bear Tough Tiger, for interference at the five-eighths pole, was denied by the stewards.
Essence Hit Man banked $108,000 in victory, improving his lifetime record to 11-5-3 from 25 starts.
He paid $6, $3.50 and $2.60, combining with Bear Tough Tiger ($3.40, $2.50) for a $13.60 (6-5) exactor. A 6-5-3 (Upgrade, $2.80 to show) triactor was worth $25.50. Hammers Terrors completed a $1 superfecta (6-5-3-1) worth $70.50.