Chief Havoc controlled the pace and won the 40th running of the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park on the Fourth of July holiday by 2 1/2 lengths under a heady ride by Rafael Bejarano, defeating Tiz a Minister, Dice Flavor and Java's War. Trained by Peter Miller and owned by Paul Makin, Chief Havoc covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.57 after setting fractions of :24.24, :48.65, 1:13.19, and 1:37.74.
Chief Havoc was the heavy favorite in the field of four 3-year-olds. It was the fourth time in the last eight runnings that the Swaps attracted just four starters.
Mike Smith and Dice Flavor pushed Chief Havoc through the first quarter mile, but couldn't keep up with the son of Giant's Causeway down the backstretch as Chief Havoc set easy fractions. G1 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes winner Java's War looked poised to threaten on the turn for home in his first start since finishing 13th in the Kentucky Derby, but he flattened out and had nothing left for the drive.
“They always make you work; they don't give anything away around here,” trainer Miller told TVG after the race. “He's a very nice horse. Hopefully we can build on this and win some nice races with him.”
Chief Havoc, out of the A.P. Indy mare La Reina, was bred in Kentucky by Emory Alexander and sold for $325,000 out of the Middlebrook Farm consignment at the 2011 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. He was purchased as by Jeremy Noseda, who trained Chief Havoc as a 2-year-old in England, where he finished third in a maiden and second in a stakes at Newbury. Chief Havoc came to the U.S. last fall, finishing sixth behind Shanghai Bobby in the G1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont, and was subsequently turned over to Miller.
The colt won his second start for his new trainer, finished second in an allowance race to Manando in May, then was an impressive front-running victor of a May 30 allowance race at the Inglewood track. On paper, he was the only speed in the field, and that was how the race was run.
Post-race quotes, Hollywood Park press office
RAFAEL BEJARANO, CHIEF HAVOC: “I sent him away from the gate but before the first turn I felt a little pressure from the inside. 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 want. 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.”
COREY NAKATANI, TIZ A MINISTER, Second: “I talked it over with (trainer) Paul (Aguirre) and I thought it would be best to just let him get comfortable. Wherever he was at was where we were going to be. That's the way he likes to run. He made a solid run, but when you have speed like (Chief Havoc), you can pretty much do what you need to do. That's just part of racing.''
MIKE SMITH, DICE FLAVOR, Third: “If I could have done anything different, it would have been just grab the bull by the horns and go with it. I thought about it going into the first turn, but then (Bejarano) kind of let his horse out a notch and I couldn't keep up at that point.”
PETER MILLER, CHIEF HAVOC, Winner: “It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. 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 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. I'll have to talk to (owner) Mr. (Paul) Makin and see if we want to look at some 3-year-old stakes or possibly the (Grade I, $1 million TVG) Pacific Classic (Aug. 25 at Del Mar).''
PAUL AGUIRRE, TIZ A MINISTER, Second: “I couldn't be happier with his race. I fought the urge to tell Corey (Nakatani) what to do. I realize after that ride that I'll never have to tell Corey what to do. He made a great decision. We wouldn't have beaten (Chief Havoc) no matter what we did and we could have messed up running second.''
PADDY GALLAGHER, DICE FLAVOR, Third: “They weren't going too fast and Mike (Smith) rode him well. The other horse is just faster. Mike gave him his best chance.”
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