By Sarah Mace
Eddie F`s Racing’s Chowda (Emcee) was all grit and determination to win Sunday’s Big A feature, the $100,000 Gander Stakes for New York-bred sophomores run at a one-turn mile. Aggressive from the bell, Chowda was headed in the stretch by Bank On Shea, but battled back hard to nail down a three-quarter length victory.
One of two horses from the Gary Sciacca barn signed on for the Gander, Chowda handed his stablemate Microscope a neck loss last out on January 17 in a first-level state-bred allowance at Aqueduct. On display that day were qualities that served him so well in the Gander: ample early speed and tremendous grit. He refused to lose that race, eking out the neck win in a three-horse blanket finish. Colormepazzi, the third place finisher from that January tilt, also a one-turn mile, returned to contest the Gander as well.
Bettors gravitated away from the first three finishers of that allowance, however, sending Chowda, Microscope and Colormepazzi off at odds of 15-1, 16-1 and 31-1, respectively. Instead they focused on a trio of well-matched and, on paper, more accomplished rivals. Bourbon Bay, who dead-heated for second behind Independence Hall in the Jerome was favored at even money. Stakes winners Scilly Cay and Bank On Shea were not far behind at odds of 2-1 and 5-2.
Eric Cancel, aboard for all six of Chowda’s prior starts, got his mount out of the gate fourth, but was single-minded about reaching the front in short order, gunning Chowda to the lead where he set opening splits of 24.03 and 48.07. One length back, Bank On Shea at the fence and Colormepazzi dueled for second, while favorite Bourbon Bay shared the caboose with Microscope.
In the turn Chowda was confronted with a two-pronged attack. Riding the rails Bank On Shea advanced to get on even terms while Scilly Cay loomed on the outside. Scilly Cay did not go on with it, but Chowda was decisively headed by Bank On Shea by midstretch.
Chowda absolutely would not throw in the towel. Inexorably wearing down Bank On Shea, he retook the lead in the final sixteenth and, for good measure, made sure the outcome was not even a photo finish, getting the win by three-quarters of a length in a final time of 1:40.06 over the fast going. Bourbon Bay closed four-wide to pick up third, 3 1/2 lengths behind Bank On Shea. Completing the order of finish were Scilly Cay, Microscope and Colormepazzi.
Unveiled late in the Saratoga meet, Chowda took two more tries to break his maiden, ultimately scoring a determined neck victory over a debuting (and next-out winner) Bourbon Bay at Aqueduct on November 11. Unplaced in the sodden, foggy Great White Way division of New York Stallion Stakes on December 14, which was won by Bank On Shea, Chowda rebounded for his January 17 allowance win.
Both pilot and trainer singled out Chowda’s will to win for praise.
“He’s a grinder,” said Eric Cancel. “He’s a horse that needs to feel other horses [beside him] to keep on going. I’ve been getting along with him really well and the trainer [Gary Sciacca] and staff have done a great job with him. He’s a horse that never gives up.”
Sciacca added, “He’s a fighter and a battler. It looked like he was going to get beat and he came back again. He just ran tough. He does better when he has someone to battle with. In his last two wins, he lost the lead and came back and won. Today, he fought it out and came back and won.”
Bred by Fedwell Farm, Chowda has won three of six starts and finished third once, earning $142,793. He is a second generation New York-bred out of Salty Little Sis, a multiple winner by Chief Seattle bred by Phil Trowbridge. Salty Little Sis has produced one other winner to date. Currently she has a juvenile full-brother to Chowda (delightfully named Lobsta) and an unnamed yearling colt by Micromanage. She was bred back to the same stallion last year.
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