Essence Hit Man, with Jesse Campbell in the irons, got off to a fast start and then dug in late for a three-quarter length score in the featured $168,000, Grade 3 Vigil Stakes, Sunday at Woodbine.
Last year’s Canadian champion sprinter, Essence Hit Man, an Ontario-bred five-year-old son of Speightstown, went one better than he did in last year’s Vigil, while running his win streak to three.  

Essence Hit Man went to the front immediately in the seven-furlong race on the Polytrack and was quickly joined by Signature Red to the outside. After taking the field through an opening quarter in :22.56, then a half in :45.16, ‘Hit’ was three lengths in front at the stretch call. 

Big Band Sound got into the swing of things with a spirited late charge, but couldn’t collar Essence Hit Man, bred and trained by Audre Cappuccitti, who co-owns with her husband, Gord.

The final time was 1:22.28.   

Big Band Sound, runner-up to Essence Hit Man in April’s Jacques Cartier Stakes, was 2 1/2 lengths ahead of Paso Doble, who was third. Something Extra was scratched.

“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, beginning with last year’s Grade 3 Kennedy Road in November. “He’s a tired boy today. He knows where that wire is at. He ran hard.”

Last year, Essence Hit Man won two races and posted two seconds from six starts, en route to Sovereign honours. He now has nine wins from 20 starts.

Sent postward the 4-5 choice, Essence Hit Man paid $3.70, $2.80 and $2.10, combining with Big Band Sound ($6.10, $3.10) for a $17.40 exactor. Paso Doble ($2.80) completed a $49.60 triactor.