With the mile and one-eighth distance taking its toll, heavily favored Charmaine’s Mia faltered in the final sixteenth in Monday’s Grade 1, $300,000 Gamely Stakes at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif., and longshot Maxim Rate, ridden for the first time by Juan Hernandez, took full advantage as she lengthened her stride when it counted to win by a half-length. Trained by Simon Callaghan, Maxim Rate got the 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:46.61.
Charmaine’s Mia, a winner of three consecutive graded stakes at shorter distances coming into the Gamely, took her customary position on the lead but hit the deep end of the pool a sixteenth of a mile from home and Maxim Rate, who stalked the pace while fourth early, was able to take full advantage while holding off a late run from French-bred La Signare.
“We knew she was training really well coming into this race,” said Callaghan. “We felt that the set up (would) be perfect. A mile and an eighth, back here in California, I think is totally her game. We had some speed to run at and it actually turned out exactly how we wrote up the race (in advance).
“The Grade I was our main aim and to pull it off is fantastic for all of the owners, all of the Slam Dunk team, everyone involved. Now, we’ll just space the races out and it will be nice to get to the Breeders’ Cup.”
A winner of Santa Anita’s G2 Goldikova Stakes at a flat mile on turf three starts back on Oct. 25, Maxim Rate was then fifth in her last two starts, the G1 Matriarch at Del Mar Nov. 29 and the G1 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland April 10.
Off at 13-1 in a field of seven fillies and mares three and up, Maxim Rate paid $29.80, $12.00 and $7.40.
A 5-year-old mare by Exchange Rate out of the Unbridled’s Song mare Catch My Eye, Maxim Rate, who is owned by Slam Dunk Racing, Stable Currency, LLC and James Branham, notched her third graded stakes win and her fourth win from eight starts over the Santa Anita lawn. With the winner’s share of $180,000, she increased her earnings to $597,185 while improving her overall mark to 16-6-3-0.
“She broke out of there, really clean break, she relaxed really well for me,” said Hernandez. “She’s a very classy filly, you can do whatever you want with her. I had a really good trip and I just waited for the quarter pole to start working on her and when I asked her to go, she took off. She’s a very nice filly.”
Ridden for the first time by Mike Smith, La Signare had two horses beat turning for home and proved second best, finishing a half length in front of English-bred Bodhicitta. Based in the Midwest with trainer Brendan Walsh and making her first start at Santa Anita, La Signare was off at 9-2 and paid $6.00 and $4.20.
Idle since Nov. 29, the Richard Baltas-trained Bodhicitta, next to last at the top of the lane, was up to nip last year’s Gamely winner, Keeper Ofthe Stars, by a neck for third. Ridden for the first time by Trevor McCarthy, Bodhicitta was off at 12-1 and paid $8.00 to show.
Charmaine’s Mia, who was off at 4-5 with Flavien Prat up, finished sixth, beaten nearly four lengths.
Fractions on the race were 22.82, 45.94, 1:09.86 and 1:34.36.