2009 was another banner year for Mike's old, new and future clients!
The hits just keep coming for the Mike Maker stable. Racing fans might have thought that, following his record-setting meet in the fall of 2008 at Churchill Downs, Mike was going to have a difficult time doing much better.
With 154 wins and stable earnings of more than $4.4 million, Maker had yet another breakout year in 2009, including a first Breeders’ Cup win. The totals gave Mike the 11th-highest in wins and 12th-highest in earnings in North America for the year and clearly demonstrated that the 41-year-old Michigan native will be a force for years to come.
Furthest Land, claimed by Maker in Oct. 2008 for a mere $35,000, captured the Grade 1, $1 million BC Dirt Mile on Nov. 7 at Santa Anita to highlight the sensational year. Furthest Land was the second horse claimed by Maker who won a 2009 graded stakes under a glaring spotlight: Accredit, a $75,000 claim in March, wheeled back two starts later to capture the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap on the Kentucky Derby undercard.
Other 2009 feats for the stable included a victory in the Grade 2 Kentucky Cup Classic by Furthest Land and a fifth career triumph in the prestigious Claiming Crown series, this one coming in the Express by Chasing the Prize. And all of these Maker runners won stakes during the year: Jack Spratt, Unspoken Word, Just for Keeps, Future Prospect, William’s Kitten, Lisa’s Kitten, Kera’s Kitten, and Dean’s Kitten.
Maker’s acumen with turning claiming runners into stakes performers is one of his many obvious talents as a horse conditioner. According to Daily Racing Form statistics, Mike also continues to win at a high percentage (25 percent and upward) in a number of important categories, including (but not limited to) first and second starts with new claims; third start in form cycle after layoffs; and in allowance, claiming, and maiden-claiming races.
The 2009 bonanza followed what had been a terrific 2008 for Maker, a longtime former assistant to Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas. In 2008, Mike easily surpassed the 100-win $3-million earnings levels for the first time when his horses accounted for 140 victories and more than $3.2 million in earnings. The year included an astounding 31-win fall meet at Churchill, setting a record at the ancient track.
Besides Ken and Sarah Ramsey, the Nicholasville, Ky., couple who are the perennial leading owners on the Kentucky circuit, Maker has customized his stable to accommodate a number of top clients, including Twin Creeks Racing, Tom Conway, Rancho San Miguel, and Scarlet Stable, but he is always looking for new customers. Mike has been based primarily in south Florida this winter but soon will consolidating much of his stock back to Kentucky, where he plans to be extremely active at the upcoming spring meets at Keeneland (April 2-23) and Churchill (April 24-July 4).
“I’m extremely grateful to all my clients for the support that allowed us to have the tremendous years we enjoyed in 2008 and 2009,” said Maker. “But we’re certainly not stopping now. In fact, we’re looking forward to further success in 2010 and beyond, and we invite anyone who’d like to be part of that to come aboard.”
11/07/09 - Mike Maker trained Furthest Land Shocks in the BREEDERS'CUP Dirt Mile
|GI Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile [1m (AW)]
||Winner: Furthest Land by Smart Strike
Longshot Furthest Land (g, 4, Smart Strike--Flagrant, by Rahy) reeled in last year's juvenile champion Midshipman (Unbridled's Song) in the final furlong, then held off the late charging Ready's Echo (More Than Ready) to take the GI Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile by 3/4 lengths at odds of 21-1. The gelding was coming off a neck score in the GII Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Sept. 26. He is now three-for-three over synthetic tracks. The final time for the mile was 1:35.50. There was a claim of foul against the runner-up, but it was disallowed. Lifetime Record: 16-8-2-1. O-Ken & Sarah Ramsey. B-Catherine Wills (Ky). T-Mike Maker
10/18/09 - SW UNSPOKEN WORD DOMINATES at KEENELAND
Unspoken Word, owned by Twin Creeks Farm and Rancho San Miguel, crushes the field by 5 1/4 lengths at Keeneland in an allowance race going 7 furlongs increasing her total earnings to $369,248.
9/30/09 - THREE STAKES WINS IN EIGHT DAYS
The big scores just keep coming for the Mike Maker stable. Three stakes wins in the span of eight days served to punctuate what has been another sensational year for Maker, the 40-year-old Michigan native who is headed for yet another career-best season.
The recent stakes flurry began with a runaway victory by William’s Kitten in the $148,000 Sunday Silence on the Sept. 19 Super Derby undercard at Louisiana Downs. Then came scores within just a few hours of each other on the following Saturday, Sept. 26: Future Prospect continued his dominance within the older New York-bred ranks by easily taking the Jazzing Around at Belmont Park, while Furthest Land came through with a gutsy performance in capturing the Grade 2, $195,000 Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park.
Those Saturday stakes wins were part of an incredible overall tear for the red-hot trainer. Maker runners won 12 of 17 starts from Sept. 19-26, with seven of the wins coming at Turfway, three at Belmont, and one each at Louisiana Downs and Kentucky Downs.
“Mike is doing a fabulous job, as usual,” said Ken Ramsey, who with his wife, Sarah, has been the leading owner on the Kentucky circuit for years. “His phenomenal success does not surprise me in the least.”
As the prime trainer for the Ramseys, Maker has quite a few 2-year-olds by the hot young sire, Kitten’s Joy, in his stable, including William’s Kitten. Through the end of September, Kitten’s Joy was the leading freshman sire in North America in earnings for 2009. Kitten’s Joy was a 2004 Eclipse Award winner for the Ramseys, who have bred many of their mares to the 8-year-old stallion.
As of Oct. 1, Maker had won 119 races for earnings of just more than $3 million, and he figures to surpass his career highs in both categories (140 wins, $3.2 million), which he set last year. Maker has steadily raised his national profile since going out on his own in 2003 after 10 years under Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. His major feats include victories in the 2004 Hawthorne Gold Cup, the 2006 Lane’s End Stakes at Turfway Park, the 2007 and 2009 runnings of the Sunday Silence at Louisiana Downs, three wins in the 2007 Claiming Crown series at Ellis Park, and a track-record 31 wins at the 2008 Churchill Downs fall meet.
Maker said he has set his sights on a productive fall, most notably at Keeneland and Churchill. “We’re just going to try to keep the momentum going,” he said. “We feel very fortunate to have experienced the success we have this year, and we’re going to do our best to keep it up.”
7/31/09 - FIVE CLAIMING CROWN CHAMPIONS AND COUNTING
Shakopee, Minn- For the third consecutive year trainer Mike Maker has saddled a claiming crown champion! The streak first started at Ellis park three years ago when he won an amazing three races from just five starters. Last year with / the event moving back to Canterbury Park in Minnesota he captured the 100k Emerald Stakes withSelf Made Man. This year Mike only had two starters, but that was enough as Chasing the Prize captured the Express.
Top jockey Julien Leparoux followed Mike's instructions to a tee as he took the normally speedy gelding off the lighting fast pace. Then as the leaders started to fade Julien turned him lose, and he exploded down the lane to easily win the stake. Chasing the Prize paid $6.40 to win, and won almost 30k for his owners. He was bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm LLC.
7/31/09 - MAKER ONE TO WATCH AT SARATOGA
Courtesy of the DRF
If there is strength in numbers, trainer Mike Maker should have a good meet as he'll have 26 head in Saratoga and another 24 stabled at Belmont. Maker had a solid meet in 2008, winning 8 races from 25 starts.
"We should have plenty of opportunities to have a good meet," Maker said. "Nice balance of horses. We got some decent 2-year-olds up here, some New York-breds, bunch of claimers."
Maker starts two horses Wednesday and three Thursday. Queen Stephanie, who takes a steep drop in class in Thursday's fifth may be his first winner.
"The ones I wanted to get in to run the first couple of days didn't get in," Maker said Monday morning. "Queen Stephanie should be pretty tough, but the first day it looks like we're in pretty deep."
Maker has the solid New York-bred Future Prospect to run in Friday's $70,000 High Rock Spring Stakes.
Rumor Control, a recent allowance winner at Belmont, is targeting a stakes on Aug. 8, while Cruisin'nthebridle should graduate from the maiden ranks this meet.
Among his 2-year-olds is Stately Victor, a son of Ghostzapper who topped the Adena Springs Sales auction at $250,000. He is out of the Grade 1 winner Collect the Cash. Maker expects the colt Dean's Kitten, and the filly Lisa's Kitten - both third in maiden turf races sprinting at Belmont - to improve when able to stretch out around two
6/24/09 - Pletcher transfer wins in her first start for Maker Stable
After finishing 10th in her first start, Rumor Control had a complete form reversal, and was an impressive winner this past Sunday at Churchill Downs. Breaking from post nine she went straight to the lead and dueled three wide though fast fractions of 22.2 and 45.4 before outlasting a solid field of maiden allowance fillys. Top jockey Julien Leparoux was aboard for the victory.
Rumor Control is a three year old daughter of Johannesburg out of Danzig Key and is owned by Twin Creeks Racing. She earned almost 30k for her victory, and the future certainly seems bright for this talented filly.
6/18/09- Second Stride Thoroughbred Charity and Mike Maker are a winning team.
Anyone who owns a racehorse can't help but dream. It doesn't matter if you claim a horse at Saratoga or buy a yearling at Keeneland, dreaming of winning a stakes race is why we all play the game. However, dreams don't always come true. Horses can get hurt or get sick or sometimes they simply are not fast enough to make it as race horses. That is why Mike Maker Racing Stable is such a big fan of Second Stride and other thoroughbred retirement charities.
Second Stride's mission statement explains what they do as an organization for these amazing animals. "Second Stride is a 501© 3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization providing professional rehabilitation, retraining, and placement for retired thoroughbred racehorses in qualified homes so that they may reach their full potential in a productive second career." They are able to accomplish these goals by working with trainers like Mike. Second Stride board of director member Jean Amick had this to say “I would like to thank Mike Maker, and the other trainers, who have helped Second Stride in our goal of retraining retired thoroughbreds. With their support, many thoroughbreds have found success in new careers in the show ring, as trail/pleasure horses, cutting horses, even search and rescue horses. Working with trainers like Mike, we are able to show just how well retired thoroughbreds can transition into new careers, which will make it easier to find new homes for the retired thoroughbreds in the future.”
Donations to this worthy charity can be sent to Second Stride Inc., P.O. Box 1483 Crestwood, Ky 40014
3/23/2009 - Maker back to defend training titles.
Courtesy of the DRF
By Marty McGee
Within a relatively short span, Mike Maker has separated himself from the pack among Kentucky trainers. The momentum got started when he won the prestigious 2008 Keeneland fall meet, and it has not slowed down since. Maker has become the dominant trainer on the circuit, having set a Churchill Downs fall-meet record for wins in November and on his way to easily winning the training title at the current winter-spring meet at Turfway Park.
So with the three-week Keeneland spring meet set to open April 3, Maker is intent on keeping that momentum going. Although his Turfway numbers were exceptional (22 wins from 55 starters through March 20), they were made all the more impressive by the fact that his best horses were in action at Gulfstream Park and Aqueduct.
Maker said that by the time Keeneland starts, he will have most of his horses consolidated back in Kentucky at the Trackside training center in Louisville and at Turfway. About 15 to 20 of his horses will stay through the Gulfstream meeting, which ends April 23.
"We'll run everything we can at Keeneland," he said.
Maker, 40, grew up in Michigan, where his father, George Maker, was a dominant trainer at Detroit Race Course and Hazel Park. He began working for D. Wayne Lukas in 1993 and became an assistant in 1997 before going out on his own in 2003. During his time with Lukas, he worked with such top horses as Thunder Gulch, Grindstone, Charismatic, Cat Thief, Span, Orientate, and Surfside.
Many of the statistical training categories maintained by Daily Racing Form reflect these high percentages.
Maker, who is active at the claim box, tends to strike right away with new claims, as he has won with 32 percent of them from 98 starts. This trend does not diminish with time, as second-time starters off the Maker claim have won 35 of 101 starts (35 percent).
He also has been quite effective with horses making the third start in their form cycle, post-layoffs (45-180 days, 25 percent; 180 days-plus, 27 percent), as well as in the various class categories: claiming, 27 percent; allowances, 25 percent; and maiden claiming, 24 percent.
In all 2-year-old races, Maker is 67 for 353 (19 percent). He named a pair of Ramsey homebred juveniles as being ready to go at Keeneland: Cater to Kitten and Scottkeith'skitten, both from the first crop of Kitten's Joy, the 2004 turf champion campaigned by the Ramseys.
Maker invariably turns to Julien Leparoux with his best horses. They have teamed to win 98 of 297 starts (33 percent).
As almost always happens with successful trainers, fans tend to back Maker's horses faithfully - perhaps more than is deserved. Nonetheless, his return on investment for every $2 wagered is an outstanding $2.03 for his entire career (397 of 1,676). Although the ROI stood at $1.71 for this year, it was above $2 in each of the last three years.
Clearly, the Mike Maker stable has become a force and will deserve particularly close scrutiny at the upcoming Keeneland and Churchill meets.