Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
took advantage of his clear pace edge, leading throughout as the 2-5 favorite in the $147,000 Swaps Stakes Thursday at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Making only his second appearance in a graded race, the son of Giant’s Causeway dispatched of three fellow 3-year-olds to win by 2 ½ lengths under jockey Rafael Bejarano.
Owned by Paul Makin and trained by Peter Miller, Chief Havoc received some unexpected pressure from Dice Flavor, the longest shot in the field at 11-1, into the opening turn, coasted through 24.24, 48.65 and 1:13.19 fractions, turned away a menacing bid by 2-1 second choice Java’s War into the stretch and went on to his third career victory.
Out of the A.P. Indy mare La Reina, Chief Havoc completed the 1 1/8 miles over Cushion Track in 1:50.17. The $90,000 payday in the Grade II increased his earnings to $180,117 in eight starts. He paid $2.80 and $2.10.
The victory was the second in three attempts over Cushion Track for the chestnut. After finishing a distant second as the 19-10 favorite in an optional claimer won by Manando May 3, Chief Havoc had dominated five opponents May 30, winning a $54,574 allowance by 4 ¾ lengths at the Swaps distance.
In his sole previous try against graded company, the Kentucky-bred trailed – for former trainer Jeremy Noseda - in the Grade I Champagne – last Oct. 6 at Belmont Park. He finished nearly 12 lengths behind winner Shanghai Bobby in his first race over conventional dirt after racing on turf and Polytrack in two starts in England.
“It was a lot harder than I thought it would be,’’ said Miller. “ I thought we’d be five (lengths) in front. Next thing I know (Dice Flavor) is right inside us.
“(Bejarano) let him out a notch and then they all took runs at him. I would have done the same thing. He responded and he finished up very strongly. I’m pleased with his effort. When I saw (fractions of) 48.65 and 1:13.19, I felt pretty confident, but it was still a horse race at the quarter pole.’’
Although Miller said he would have to talk to Makin about what would be next for Chief Havoc, the trainer did mention the Grade I, $1 million TVG Pacific Classic – which will be run Aug. 25 at Del Mar - as a possibility.
“I sent him away from the gate, but before the first turn I felt a little pressure from the inside,’’ said Bejarano after his first Swaps victory. “I wasn’t expecting that. When (Dice Flavor) tried to come between me and the rail, I was a little surprised. I had to ask him a little to make sure I was on the lead and back on the rail.
“By the six-furlong pole, I knew I had a lot of horse and could do whatever I wanted. Little by little, I let him go and made sure to get him into position. In the stretch, I had a lot of horse left.’’
Trying to become the first horse to sweep the Affirmed and Swaps since Came Home in 2002, Tiz a Minister finished as best he could to gain the place by 1 ½ lengths over Dice Flavor. A last-to-first winner of the Grade III Affirmed June 2, Tiz a Minister paid $3.20 to place. There was no show wagering.
Making his first start since finishing a troubled 13th in the Kentucky Derby May 4 at Churchill Downs, Java’s War, the 122-pound top weight, wound up 1 ¼ lengths behind Dice Flavor. The War Pass colt had won the Grade I Blue Grass over the Polytrack at Keeneland April 13 the last time he’d run over a synthetic surface.
Racing resumes Friday. Post time is 7:05 p.m. for the final night card at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Immediately after the conclusion of the races – approximately 10:30 p.m. – a concert featuring 80z All Stars will begin. Beer will be offered for $1 between 7 and 9 p.m.
The feature attraction on the eight-race program is the $70,000 Lucie Manet Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 ¼ miles on turf.