The ninth furlong of Monday’s $301,000 Gamely S. (G1) turned out to be a bridge too far for 9-10 favorite Charmaine’s Mia, but it was right in the target zone for Maxim Rate. The 13.90-1 overlay struck from midpack under another textbook ride by Juan Hernandez, who was winning his third graded stakes of the long Memorial Day weekend at Santa Anita.
Charmaine’s Mia brandished her sprinter/miler speed a bit too much early, ripping through splits of :22.82, :45.94, and 1:09.86 on the firm course. Although the favorite remained in front at the mile mark in 1:34.36, her lead was already evaporating as she reached the eighth pole. Initial pursuer Keeper Ofthe Stars, the defending Gamely champion, likewise felt the effects of the swift pace at that point.
But Maxim Rate, who had been parked several lengths back in fourth, was on the march. In a well-timed move, the Simon Callaghan mare surged past the weakening leaders and beat the closing La Signare to the punch. La Signare had to settle for second, a half-length away. Maxim Rate finished in 1:46.61 and rewarded her loyalists with a $29.80 win payout.
The top two were underscoring the depth of the April 10 Jenny Wiley (G1) at Keeneland, where La Signare was third and Maxim Rate fifth after making a middle move on yielding ground. The change of venue to Maxim Rate’s home base, quicker conditions, and a different trip all added up to a form reversal.
Bodhicitta quickened late to snatch third, another half-length back. Runner-up in last year’s Gamely, Bodhicitta had not raced since her eighth in the Nov. 29 Matriarch (G1) at Del Mar. Maxim Rate was fifth in that Matriarch, which has also worked out well in the interim as reiterated by the Gamely.
Keeper Ofthe Stars checked in fourth, followed by Going to Vegas, Charmaine’s Mia, and the ever-trailing Red Lark. Raymundos Secret and Stela Star were withdrawn.
“I just watched a couple of replays of her,” Hernandez said of Maxim Rate. “It looked like she was a really nice filly. She broke out of there, really clean break, she relaxed really well for me. She’s a very classy filly, you can do whatever you want with her. I had a really good trip all the race 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.”
Campaigned by Slam Dunk Racing, Stable Currency, and James Branham, Maxim Rate has compiled a record of 16-6-3-0, $597,185. The gray was a notable turf sophomore in the spring of 2019, landing the Senorita (G3) and missing by a nose in the Providencia (G3), but lost her way for a while. Maxim Rate put it together last season with victories in the CTT and TOC S. and Goldikova (G2) as well as a fine second in the Rodeo Drive (G1). Her subsequent fifths in the Matriarch and Jenny Wiley weren’t applicable to her chances here.
“We knew she was training really well coming into this race,” Callaghan said. “We felt that the set-up will 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 before.
“The Grade 1 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.”
Bred by Fred W. Hertrich III and John D. Fielding in Kentucky, Maxim Rate sold twice at Keeneland. The $130,000 November weanling later brought $235,000 as a September yearling. The five-year-old is a daughter of Exchange Rate and the Unbridled’s Song mare Catch My Eye, from the family of French highweight stayer Celtic Celeb and Group 1 scorers Gabina, Galetto, and Goldmark.