07/02/2013 3:32PM

Hollywood Park: Swaps a showcase for Chief Havoc's speed

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. – For the improving Chief Havoc, winning a stakes race may never be as simple as the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes on Thursday at Betfair Hollywood Park.

“We’re the only speed,” trainer Peter Miller said.

That is not Chief Havoc’s only attribute, but Thursday it is the most important. Just three others entered the $150,000 Swaps, and all are closers – Grade 1 winner Java’s War from Kentucky and locally based Grade 3 winners Tiz a Minister and Dice Flavor.

The 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds is unappealing from a betting perspective, and it will be out of the way early. The Swaps is race 3, a business decision, according to track racing secretary Martin Panza.

“There is no show wagering and no superfecta wagering,” Panza said.

“When you lose a bunch of pools . . . you don’t want to run a four-horse field as the seventh or eighth race.”

Chief Havoc, beyond a conspicuous pace advantage, enters the Swaps with the highest Beyer Speed Figure, a 101 last out winning a first-level allowance. He also carries 6 to 8 pounds less than his rivals and has improved with each start in the United States.

“He’s started to relax,” Miller said. “He was a little uptight when he first came over. It’s more an acclamation thing.”

Paul Makin owns Chief Havoc, sired by Giant’s Causeway and produced by graded stakes winner La Reina. Chief Havoc lost twice in England before shipping to Belmont and finishing last in the Champagne, returned to England, and arrived at Miller’s barn in winter.

“It took a couple months to kind of get acclimated,” Miller said. “I thought he was Derby quality, and maybe if I had gotten him a month or two earlier. . . . But it didn’t work out, and we didn’t want to force the issue.”

Chief Havoc romped over maidens in April, finished second in an allowance, and last out won an allowance by nearly five. Rafael Bejarano worked Chief Havoc on Saturday and will ride in the Swaps.

Next out, the competition will be tougher.

“One possibility might be the Pacific Classic, depending on how he trains” at Del Mar, Miller said. “Other possibilities might be the Haskell, the Travers.

“We have a lot of options.”

Java’s War arrived Monday from Kentucky and will be making his first start since finishing 13th in the Kentucky Derby. In the spring he won the Blue Grass Stakes on the Polytrack at Keeneland and on Saturday will try Cushion Track.

“He came out the Derby a little bit thin,” trainer Ken McPeek said. “He’s doing really well, and obviously he’s won on the Poly, so this seemed the logical spot.”

Java’s War began his career last year, winning two his first three starts, all on turf. McPeek said he and owner Charles Fipke have discussed a return to turf for Java’s War and also will consider the Travers.

Tiz a Minister won the Grade 3 Affirmed last out at Hollywood, but trainer Paul Aguirre recognizes the Swaps challenge with the speedy Chief Havoc and the late-running Java’s War in the field.

“I don’t like our chances,” Aguirre said. “There’s a lone speed horse who is getting good, and then there’s a dead closer that’s won a Grade 1 and is probably better than us.”

Aguirre claimed Tiz a Minister for $40,000 last summer. Since then, he has earned more than $400,000.

“This horse, you never know when he’s going to win,” Aguirre said. “On a given day, horses better than him he is able to beat. And on a given day, horses not as good as him are able to beat him.”

Tiz a Minister will be considered for the 3-year-old turf series at Del Mar, with an outside chance he could go to Mountaineer Park for the $750,000 West Virginia Derby on Aug. 3.

Dice Flavor, winner of the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate, also may end up on turf at Del Mar. He finished fourth in the Affirmed, his first start since an eighth-place finish two months earlier in Dubai.

“His comeback race was a nice enough race – the last part of the race he was making up ground on them,” trainer Paddy Gallagher said. “This summer, he may be back on the grass again.”

Jose More than 1 year ago
A 4 horse field. Wow . Good job racing secretary .
W.H. Anderson More than 1 year ago
I was there for the Swaps when the Shoe rode JO Tobin wire to wire to beat Seattle Slew and others. Allowance horses with good Beyers and early speed can beat the classy closers.
Dee R. Eff More than 1 year ago
A new low for CAL racing when they make a business decision with no money to be made on the Swaps that they move it to the third race to get it over with. The threat to go wire to wire is a second level allowance winner. With one speed horse and others being deep closers, this race might set a new unofficial record for a four horse field for number of lengths from first to last on the backstretch of about 25 lengths. And where are Bafferts string of 3 year olds. Maybe they all spiked a temp.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Every stakes with a small field at most major tracks is placed in a spot on the card, that will be run before the pick six begins. Bafferts 3 year olds are prepping for races with bigger purses.
Dee R. Eff More than 1 year ago
wrong, the article clearly states that it was a business decision based on no show wagering and no superfecta wagering meaning low overall takeout. Baffert would have never passed on this but for other reasons.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yes, the article states that. This past Saturday, there was a stakes race with 5 horses. They ran it as race 3, that is done almost always. Some race days though, the fields average six horses, so it makes no diffrence. California racing in general sucks!
John More than 1 year ago
I just read where the conspiracy has been exposed , the CHRB has been hi-jacked by the 3 STOOGES, Larry, Moe and Curly , and now we can find out, some of the following answers ! Why is the take out such a deal breaker for serious bettors, %23 is INSANITY ! And, who is in the back pockets of the Indian tribes, for not pressing slots into California racing, thus saving a semblance of the purses and the reason for shorts fields. Heck Id travel to the east coast with a horse for a purse that makes California look like IDIOTS 1 Has anyone shot the CHRB yet ?..............this stinks to high heaven ! SLOTS NOW ! Put the Indians back on the reservation if they dont like the monoploy they now have !
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
California racing has been on the course it is on for many years. Hollywood Parks's handle has declined alng with field size. Until dates are cutback and tracks are allowed slots to compete against casinos, it will comtinue a downward spiral. It is sad that the major tracks have lowered bottom level claimers to 8k in an attempt to fill some races. No wonder the owners of Hollywood want to shut down and sell. The still haven't recouped the investment forthe synthetic surface the CHRB forced them to put in. Lucky old Stronach was able to switch back to dirt and get his money back from insurance because the contractors did not know enough to stop the track from flooding while it was a synthetic surface. What a pile of horse crap.
Brandon Layer More than 1 year ago
If Chief Havoc can run 1 1/8 miles in 1:50 and Java's War can do it in 1:49, Java's War will win right? Screw the pace. The riders need to just get their horse around the track as fast as that horse can get around the track. Don't worry about pace, just run you're race like you're the only horse in the field.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Chief havoc can cover a mile and an 1/8 faster than 1:50. He covered that distance last out in that time because he had an easy lead. With no pressure on him, he will run them off their hooves, you know like Obviously.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
I know what you're saying, and I've thought it many times myself. It seems so logical. But yet, it most often does not work out that way. I think too many times jockeys and trainers get set into a particular style. Sure, some horse do have a distinct running style preference; these are herd animals. However, if in other races Java's War is `15 lengths off a 6 furlong pace of 1:10, this means Java's War is running 1:13. If on Thursday, Chief Havoc tries to go out real slow, like 1:13, Java's War should be head and head with him. Bt if that actually does turn out to be the pace, a more likely scenario is that Java's War will still drop at least 5 lengths back. Why? Because that's his style? It's almost a self fulfilling prophecy.
You Feel Lucky More than 1 year ago
Man, dont we wish it was that easy......but, as we know, it's not.
Brandon Layer More than 1 year ago
Maybe they should make a change to the Swaps in an effort to attract more horses. Make it a turf race or something. There are currently zero graded stakes in America restricted to three year olds at the distance of 1 1/2 miles. They could make the Swaps the ONLY 1 1/2 mile 3yo turf race in America! Then it would have a nice niche in the racing calendar, attracting a big field every year.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Duh, there is a little race called the Belmont, its grade 1, restricted to 3 year olds.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh yeah and its 1 1/2 miles!
James Madden More than 1 year ago
He sad the Turf!
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Love Aguirre's comments. And his description of Tiz a Minister is spot-on. If the pace is wrong for TaM, he could lose to ordinary horses, but when he gets a meltdown infront of him, he can be tough.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Is there such a thing as a tough cal bred ? Lmao
Tom Jackson More than 1 year ago
yes, Lava Man.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Tiznow. Free House. Best Pal. Amazombie. 3rd best breeding state behind Kentucky and Florida.
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
Why not just hold two match races and split the pot?might be more interesting than this.pathetic to say the least..Hollywood park going out with a bang.
W.H. Anderson More than 1 year ago
Short fields....Weak Stake Races,....Terrible announcer......throw in the TVG un-interesting so called handicappers.....Jack Liebau at the Helm......It's time for Hollywood Park to turn the lights out.
zerosumzen More than 1 year ago
Vic Stauffer is one of the best announcers in the business. Sees everything.
B More than 1 year ago
I wholeheartedly agree. He should be taking over either Del Mar or Santa Anita.