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Trainer Mike Maker gets career win 2,000 at Turfway Park Thursday with a horse owned by the Ramseys

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Trainer Mike Maker scored his 2,000th career victory Thursday, as Tomahawk Kitten scored his first, cruising home a 4 1/4-length winner in the first race at Turfway Park.

Maker (file photo)

Fittingly, Tomahawk Kitten was bred and is owned by Maker’s longtime clients Ken and Sarah Ramsey. The 2-year-old colt sat off the pace down the backstretch of the one-mile maiden claiming race, swept five wide around the turn and drew away at will. Alex Canchari was aboard for the milestone victory.

“It absolutely feels good,” said Maker, reached by phone from his winter base at Gulfstream Park. “I’m thankful for the clients and the staff who made it possible. It’s great for them. I’m very pleased.”

Maker, 48, first learned the art of training from his father, George Maker, who trained at Detroit Race Course and Hazel Park in Michigan. He bought his first horse at age 13 with money earned walking hots for his dad and delivering newspapers, and the horse won the first time he raced.  The younger Maker eventually was his dad’s assistant before going out on his own in 1991.

In 1993 Maker landed a job with trainer D. Wayne Lukas, working with the stable’s string at Churchill Downs under Dallas Stewart, then an assistant to Lukas.  When Stewart went out on his own in 1997, Maker took over as head of the Louisville operation.  He left the Lukas stable in 2003 to again open his own stable.

Maker’s first “big horse” was Freefourinternet, who in 2004 gave the trainer both his first stakes win, the Labor Day Handicap at Mountaineer, and his first graded win, the Hawthorne Gold Cup (G2).  Maker has two Breeders’ Cup wins, scoring with 21-1 Furthest Land in the 2009 Dirt Mile for the Ramseys and with Kendall Hansen’s eponymous Hansen, the eventual 2-year-old champion, in the 2011 Juvenile.

Furthest Land’s Breeders’ Cup victory was Maker’s first Grade 1 win and demonstrated the trainer’s well regarded ability to turn claimers into stakes winners. Maker had claimed Furthest Land for the Ramseys out of a race at Belmont in October 2008.

Assistant John Lynde (right) accepts recognition for trainer Mike Maker’s 2,000th career win. Maker is at his winter base in Florida (Coady Photography – provided)

Other Grade 1 winners trained by Maker are Stately Victor, Bigger Picture, Admiral Kitten, Kitten’s Dumplings and Al’s Gal.

Maker holds multiple leading trainer titles in Kentucky, including 19 at Turfway, just one behind the record set by Bernie Flint. He has 31 stakes wins at Turfway, tied with Flint behind Lukas’s 37. On Sept. 24, 2011, Maker set the Turfway record for most wins in a single day with five.  Three of those were stakes wins—the Kentucky Cup Distaff (G3) with La Gran Bailadora, Kentucky Cup Sprint (G3) with Matthewsburg, and Kentucky Cup Juvenile with Hansen—and he added a fourth stakes win the same day with Derby Kitten in the Ontario Derby at Woodbine.

Maker’s purse earnings total nearly $77.6 million, with $11.5 million coming in 2016, his best year to date. In the 17 years of his career, he has posted a win rate of 22 percent and an in-the-money rate of 50 percent, and he currently ranks 29th among all North American trainers by earnings. His stable numbers 150, currently based at Gulfstream Park and Palm Meadows in Florida, Fair Grounds in New Orleans and Turfway.

Turfway Park

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