Essence Hit Man successfully defended his Grade 3 $168,000 Bold Venture title with a familiar front-running performance in Woodbine’s Wednesday night feature.

Essence Hit Man, twice named Canada’s champion sprinter, came into the 6 1/2-furlong ‘Poly’ stake off a narrow 1/2-length defeat to Laugh Track in the Grade 3 Vigil Stakes. However, there would be no denying the Larry Cappuccitti trainee on this night as the five-year-old gelding stayed on gamely in the stretch to hold off a rallying Dimension.

Jesse Campbell sent Essence Hit Man to the lead right out of the gate with Paso Doble, Bear Tough Tiger and Dimension stalking his pace through a quarter in :22.21.  Essence Hit Man led the field into the turn, marking a half-mile in a blistering :44.01, putting away all but Dimension who was angled off the rail and into contention by David Moran.

Campbell kept to task on Essence Hit Man, who drifted outward approaching the wire, and just held off Dimension to win, by a neck.  Essence Hit Man stopped the clock in 1:15.46. Moran’s claim of foul against the winner for interference in the stretch run was denied by the stewards.

The quick middle fraction set by Essence Hit Man was all part of the master plan set by Campbell and Cappuccitti.

“Larry said if I could give him (Essence Hit Man) his head a little bit today, not slow him down as much as I have been and it worked out,” said Campbell. “He was in his rhythm, so I just let him be.”

Campbell believes that the 6 1/2-furlong distance of the Bold Venture suits his horse perfectly.

“It’s the perfect in-between distance for him. He can use his speed, make them work to chase him, and he’s got enough to hold them off. He’s just a good racehorse,” said Campbell.

Essence Hit Man banked $108,000 in victory, while improving his record to 12-6-3 from 27 career starts.

He returned $3.90, $2.60 and $2.30, pairing with Dimension ($16.90, $6.20) for a $67.50 (3-1) exactor.  A 3-1-6 (Paso Doble, $3.60 to show) triactor was worth $251.70.