07/04/2013 4:53PM

Hollywood Park: Chief Havoc beats short field in Swaps

Benoit & Associates
Chief Havoc, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, won the Swaps Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths Thursday for his first stakes victory.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Chief Havoc proved impossible to catch in Thursday’s $150,000 Swaps Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park, even though some of his rivals took turns trying to soften the heavy favorite.

Chief Havoc ($2.80) ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.17, winning the first stakes of his eight-race career.

To do so, Chief Havoc rushed past Dice Flavor on the first turn to take the lead, repelled a brief challenge from the Grade 1 winner Java’s War entering the stretch, and easily held off Tiz a Minister in the final furlong.

Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Chief Havoc won by 2 1/2 lengths over Tiz a Minister.

“He responded,” said winning trainer Peter Miller. “He finished up really strong. They took turns at him.”

Chief Havoc set a modest pace of 24.24 and 48.65 seconds, leading by a half-length to a length over Dice Flavor on the backstretch. Java’s War, who won the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland in April but was 13th in the Kentucky Derby on May 4, moved between Chief Havoc and Dice Flavor on the turn but could not sustain the rally.

Chief Havoc led by 1 1/2 lengths in the stretch and pulled away in the final furlong.

“I expected to be on the lead,” Bejarano said. “Before the first turn, I felt a little pressure, and I had to ask him a little bit to get to the rail. Little by little, I let him go. I felt I had a lot of horse in the stretch.”

Tiz a Minister, who won the Grade 3 Affirmed Handicap here June 2, finished 1 1/2 lengths in front of Dice Flavor, who was 1 1/4 lengths in front of Java’s War. The race drew only four runners.

Chief Havoc, by Giant’s Causeway, has won 3 of 8 starts and $180,117. Owned by Paul Makin, Chief Havoc began his career in England, where he was third and second in two starts before making his American debut with a sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park on Oct. 6, his final start for trainer Jeremy Noseda.

Chief Havoc made his first start for Miller at Santa Anita in March, finishing sixth against maidens. Since then, Chief Havoc has won 3 of 4 starts, giving Makin and Miller a chance to plan for more stakes later this summer, Miller said.