November 29, 2023

Charmaine’s Mia handles stretch-out in Buena Vista

Charmaine's Mia
Charmaine's Mia and jockey Flavien Prat win the Buena Vista Stakes (Benoit Photo)

A course record-setting winner of the Las Cienegas S. (G3) in her Santa Anita debut, Charmaine’s Mia successfully stretched out to a mile in Saturday’s $202,000 Buena Vista S. (G2). The 13-10 favorite is now 2-for-2 over the course, and for trainer Phil D’Amato.

Charmaine’s Mia was also continuing the momentum for jockey Flavien Prat. Fresh off a four-win Friday highlighted by a milestone 1,000th victory in North America, Prat racked up three on Saturday capped by the Buena Vista.

The speedy Charmaine’s Mia blasted out of the gate, but 41-1 Bohemian Bourbon to her inside flashed intent to lead. Prat cajoled Charmaine’s Mia to stalk in second through splits of :22.65 and :45.93, with another longshot, Heather’s Grey, draped on her flank.

The favorite asserted at the six-furlong mark in 1:09.75, thereby getting the decisive jump on Mucho Unusual, the 7-2 second choice. Mucho Unusual was beginning to advance herself at that stage, and she gave chase for the length of the stretch. But Charmaine’s Mia kept up her gallop to prevail by a length in 1:33.93.

“She broke sharp,” Prat recapped. “She’s really fast out of the gate and I wanted to be on the lead, but the inside horse (Bohemian Bourbon) was pulling very hard, so we were second, which was a good place to be.  When we made the lead at the quarter pole, she got a good breather and from there, she finished really well.”

“It’s huge – Flavien said there’s more in the tank,” D’Amato said of passing the route test. “She rated nice. If she needed to go a little further, it wasn’t a problem. So that definitely broadens her horizons and maybe has us starting to look at Grade 1s.”

Mucho Unusual, third in this race a year ago, fared better as the runner-up. Reliable Cal-bred Warren’s Showtime closed for the show spot, followed by Going to Vegas, a belated Red Lark, Sloane Garden, Heathers Grey, Bohemian Bourbon, and Sedamar. Nasty was scratched.

Charmaine’s Mia’s first win at a route improved her resume to 27-6-4-2, $352,976. The daughter of The Factor made the first 25 of those starts for owner/trainer Michael McDonald, mostly at Woodbine except for racing at Gulfstream in the winter. She placed in the 2018 Catch a Glimpse as a juvenile and finished fourth in the 2020 Whimsical (G3) and Royal North (G2).

The Jan. 9 Las Cienegas marked her premiere in the colors of Agave Racing Stable, and Charmaine’s Mia zipped six furlongs in 1:07.81 to set a short-lived course record. Rockin Robin Racing Stables joined the partnership ahead of the Buena Vista.

Bred by Gunpowder Farms in Kentucky, Charmaine’s Mia RNA’d for $40,000 as a Keeneland November weanling and sold for just $4,000 as a September yearling at that venue. The five-year-old bay was produced by the stakes-winning Bernstein mare Charming Vixen. This is the extended family of European sprint maven Committed, the dam of Pharma and Hap and ancestress of champion English Channel.

D’Amato spoke of another dimension of family, his barn family, led by 71-year-old groom Ricardo Mejia.

“He might not even know this, but when I see him at the barn, rubbing horses, it’s just like a security blanket, to know I’ve got one of the best grooms ever taking care  of my horses. He rubbed every graded stake winner that Mike Mitchell had when I worked for him, and decades before I worked for him and he’s been with me since I started training. It’s just been a Godsend. Ricardo’s son is also one of my assistants, so it’s a family affair. So that’s part of the reason why he stood with us. It’s just like family.”