Michael Maker Profile
|Born||Feb 07, 1969|
|Birthplace||Garden City, Michigan|
Working with a legend of the sport has proved to be beneficial to Maker's success throughout his career.
Mentored by the great D. Wayne Lukas, one of the sport's best Hall of Fame trainers, Michael Maker is one of today's leading names in American Thoroughbred horse racing. Since becoming an official trainer in 2003, he has been responsible for runners like Furthest Land, Hansen and Stately Victor.
The trainer has participated in some of the sport's top races, but he has yet to score any Triple Crown racing victories. He will be looking to change that as his runners fight for a spot in the 2021 Kentucky Derby.
Mike Maker has over 2,700 victories, 2,000 runner-up finishes and 1,660 third-place finishes from over 13,330 total starts. He has collected over $116,500,000 in total purse earnings, with an earnings per start average of over $8,700.
Maker, like most of the best trainers, has been involved with horse racing his entire life. His father, George Maker, was a Michigan-based trainer and taught Mike about the business at a young age.
Recollecting his youth, Michael wrote on his website: "My father was a trainer, so I grew up around racing. We lived in Madison Heights, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. My family raced at Hazel Park half the year and Detroit Race Course the other half, and like most kids, I dreamed of winning the Kentucky Derby. Not only did I work at the track, but I was a racing fan."
During that time, he earned money by delivering newspapers and working with his father, which enabled him to buy his first horse at 13. That first horse won his first race, kicking off Maker's long and successful career in the sport.
"I saved money for my first horse by delivering the Detroit Free Press and by walking hots on the weekends for my dad. I eventually worked up to assistant to my dad and was an owner and trainer on my own for a short time. I was very fortunate to land a job with DWL (D. Wayne Lukas) in November 1993. This job enabled me to travel and gain a priceless wealth of experience at the highest level of thoroughbred racing."
In 1991, Maker set up his first public stable before going on to become an assistant for US Racing Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas in 1993. He stayed with Lukas until 2003, and during his time as an assistant, Maker helped train top runners like Cat Thief, Spain, Orientate, Cash Run and Surfside. His most notable runner during that time was Charismatic, the 1999 Horse of the Year, and Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes victor.
Leading trainer at Keeneland
Maker's home base is Louisville, Kentucky, and he has been the leading trainer at various tracks like Keeneland, Turfway Park and Churchill Downs. Keeneland is his most notable track of the three, and he is the sixth-leading trainer by wins with 210. Maker's first Keeneland win came during the Spring Meet in 2014.
The trainer has six leading trainer titles at Keeneland - the 2008 Spring, 2013 Spring and Fall, 2016 Spring, 2017 Fall and 2019 Fall. In April 2013, he broke the Spring Meet record when he scored 25 victories.
One of Maker's most impressive wins at the track came in the Grade 1 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes in 2010 with Stately Victor, the 40/1 longshot. Stately Victor was joined by jockey Alan Garcia and beat names like Paddy O'Prado, First Dude and Interactif.
Stately Victor bumped First Dude out of the gate and didn't move forward until the second turn. He moved out three wide and sat between rivals at the six-furlong mark before going five wide in the stretch and closing to win the event.
Maker's other top Grade 1 wins at Keeneland include the Breeders' Futurity with Joha in 2012 and the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup in 2013 with Kitten's Dumplings.
The trainer was also responsible for Zulu Alpha, a son of the Irish-bred Street Cry. On July 12, 2020, Zulu Alpha won the Grade 2 TVG Elkhorn Stakes ahead of Postulation, Nakamura and Jais's Solitude.
Zulu Alpha was bumped at the start before saving ground while running far off the pace. He rallied in the third turn and moved five wide turning for home. He drifted slightly before bidding inside the final furlong and he held strong in the final sixteenth to cross the wire first.
During that same closing day of the five-day Summer Meet at Keeneland, Maker won the Grade 3 Kentucky Utilities Transylvania with Field Pass.
His 2020 performances at the track also include wins in the Grade 3 Pin Oak Valley View during the Fall Meet with Stunning Sky. He also scored the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Presented by Coolmore America with Fire at Will.
Breeders' Cup wins
While Maker is still looking for his first Triple Crown race win, he does have three Breeders' Cup victories.
The first of the three came with the Kentucky-bred Furthest Land in the 2009 Dirt Mile at Keeneland. The son of Smart Strike was joined by jockey Julien Leparoux and beat Ready's Echo and Midshipman. The runner raced along the rail early and challenged the leader in the sixteenth pole, taking the lead and holding off the rest of the field to give Maker his first career Breeders' Cup win.
The trainer's second victory came in the 2011 Juvenile at Churchill Downs with Hansen, a Kentucky-bred son of leading sire Tapit. The Juvenile was the runner's biggest career victory. Joined by rider Ramon Dominguez, he ran ahead of names like Union Rags and Creative Cause. Hansen was the 2011 champion two-year-old male as a result.
Maker's third and most recent Breeders' Cup win came in the 2020 Juvenile Turf at Keeneland with Fire at Will. The colt from Declaration of War is still one of Maker's leading horses.
In the Juvenile Turf, Fire At Will was guided by Ricardo Santana, Jr. to finish ahead of Battleground and Outadore.