05/25/2007 11:00PM

Hey Chub holds off Who's the Cowboy

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OCEANPORT, N.J. - Hey Chub upset Who's the Cowboy by a neck in the $60,000 John J. Reilly Handicap on Saturday to kick off the Memorial Day weekend at Monmouth Park.

The expected script took an interesting twist in the six-furlong race for New Jersey-breds. Everyone anticipated John's Pic gunning to the front and dictating the pace. He briefly vied for the lead but quickly backed off.

In a race suddenly stripped of a clearly defined pacesetter, Hey Chub on the rail and Who's the Cowboy, the 3-5 favorite with Eddie King aboard, tussled for the lead. The change in tactics took Who's the Cowboy out of his best game. The 5-year-old winner of 11 races is most effective closing from off the pace.

"Eddie was waiting for somebody to go to the front, but nobody really zinged out there," said Gerry Sleeter, owner of Who's the Cowboy. "He thought he had to go. That was a different plan than we expected, where we could sit off."

Hey Chub ($20.80), a 7-year-old making his first start for trainer Jamie Woodington, ran a huge race in a swift 1:08.78. He survived the prolonged duel and fought bravely in deep stretch to give jockey Joanne McDaid her first stakes victory.

"I didn't expect to be in front," said McDaid. "My horse usually likes to lay just off the speed. In the stretch, my horse was game and he just kept on digging. I knew we were going to get there first."

The win was the sixth in 27 starts for Hey Chub, who has earned almost $350,000 largely on the strength of 14 seconds.

Woodington, who got the horse from owner Danny Lopez in February, plans to shop for another New Jersey-bred spot.

Trueamericanspirit rallied for third followed by John's Pic and Ojibway.P

Elkwood: Host rallies to victory

Host, making his first start since running 12th in the Dubai Sheema Classic in March, rallied for a three-quarter-length victory over Bestowed in the $60,000 Elkwood Stakes.

A 7-year-old Chilean bred trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Chris DeCarlo, Host ran the one mile on firm turf in 1:33.99.