Kingfisher Farm’s Maya Charli, fresh from a maiden victory a week earlier, blazed to victory over seasoned stakes winners in the $40,000 Valentine Memorial, the feature race of the 44th annual Fair Hill Spring Races in northern Maryland on Saturday, May 26. Trained by Jack Fisher and ridden by Ross Geraghty, Maya Charli scored by 2 1/4 lengths over Arcadia Stable’s Opera Heroine, also trained by Fisher.
Magalen O. Bryant’s Well Fashioned finished third, and W. Russell Cline’s Better Than Ever was fourth in a field of seven. Maya Charli, a five-year-old Cozzene mare, ran the Valentine Memorial’s 2 1/4 miles in 4:13.20 on firm ground.
Maya Charli was bred in New York by Racing Hall of Fame trainer John Nerud, who raced Cozzene, the 1985 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner and champion male turf horse. She was running in low-level claiming races at the New York tracks before she was converted to hurdle racing last year. She had two third-place finishes this spring before a fall at Willowdale in Kennett Square, Pa., on May 13. Fisher brought her back six days later in the Henry Collins, an open maiden claiming hurdle at the Radnor Hunt Races in Malvern, Pa., on May 19. Ridden for the first time by Geraghty, Maya Charli went to the lead early and won by 5 1/4 lengths. Maya Charli and Geraghty repeated those tactics in the Valentine Memorial and held off stablemate Opera Heroine, winner of Saratoga Race Course’s Mrs. Ogden Phipps last summer.