Maker to Have Presence in Maryland Through Fall at Laurel Park

September 28, 2022

BALTIMORE— Mike Maker, annually among the country’s leading trainers in starts, wins and purses earned, is planning to have a presence in Maryland this fall.

The 53-year-old Maker, based primarily in the Midwest but with seasonal strings in Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, New York and Texas, will have 15 stalls at Laurel Park’s calendar year-ending fall meet which begins Friday, Sept. 30.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Maker said. “It’ll be a small string, but with limited grass opportunities here in Kentucky I think it’s a good fit.”

Maker is coming off a meet at all-turf Kentucky Downs, where he is the track’s all-time leading trainer and set single-season records this year in starters (65), wins (12) and purse earnings ($2.34 million). Among Maker’s wins were the Mint Million (G3) with Somelikeithotbrown and Kentucky Turf Cup (G2) with Red Knight.

“For us, it’s a chance to run on the grass and have a presence there,” Maker said of Laurel. “Then we can swap the horses out as we need.”

Maker is a native of Michigan who walked hots for his father, George, at Hazel Park and defunct Detroit Race Course. At 13, he bought his first horse with money earned from delivering the Detroit Free Press, and won in his first start. He worked his way up to an assistant for his father and apprenticed under Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas for 10 years before going out on his own in 2003.

Palatial Times provided Maker with his 3,000th career victory Aug. 7 at Ellis Park. Known for his success turning claiming horses into stakes winners, Maker has trained a dozen millionaires including 2011 champion 2-year-old male Hansen and fellow Grade 1 winners Zulu Alpha, Bigger Picture and Henley’s Joy.

Maker has had success shipping to Maryland for stakes, this year winning the What a Summer with Time Limit Jan. 29 at Laurel and Miss Preakness (G3) with Lady Scarlet May 20 at historic Pimlico Race Course, where he also finished with the third-most points in the Preakness weekend trainer bonus standings.

Last year Maker finished second in the bonus standings after winning the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) with Army Wife, historic Pimlico Special (G3) with Last Judgment and Maryland Sprint (G3) with Special Reserve on the dirt, as well as the Dinner Party (G2) on turf with Somelikeithotbrown. At Laurel, he won the Baltimore-Washington International Turf Cup (G3) with Field Pass and Japan Turf Cup with Tide of the Sea.

Maker earned the top Preakness weekend trainer bonus in 2020, its stakes pushed back to October amid the coronavirus pandemic, following wins in the Hilltop with Evil Lyn and Laurel Futurity with Catman.

Statistics compiled by Equibase show Maker with a record of 17-7-10 and purse earnings of $1,737,423 from 79 lifetime starts at Laurel and Pimlico. He is 7-5-6 with $493,513 in purses at Laurel, including 24-6-2-3, $364,893 in grass races.

In 58-lifetime stakes races in Maryland, Maker has 11 wins, five seconds, seven thirds and $1,513,331 in purses earned. His first Maryland stakes win came in the 2017 Pearl Necklace at Laurel with I’m Betty G.

“We’ve had good luck in Maryland,” Maker said. “It’s just been a matter of the horses fitting and finding the right races and having them show up on the day.”

Maker ran seventh with a pair of horses on Saturday’s stakes-filled program – Miss Preakness (G3) winner Lady Scarlet in the $100,000 Weather Vane on dirt and 2020 American Turf (G2) winner Fancy Liquor in a fourth-level optional claiming allowance on turf.

Stall applications for Laurel’s fall meet, which runs through Dec. 31, are due Saturday, Oct. 1.

Apprentice Barbosa Leads Fall Meet Riders

Jeiron Barbosa (Maryland Jockey Club)

R B’s Star ($7) surged past a stubborn Bandits Warrior in deep stretch for a popular half-length victory in Race 8 Sunday at historic Pimlico Race Course, giving 18-year-old apprentice Jeiron Barbosa his second riding title this year.

Barbosa, a native of Puerto Rico, ended Sunday’s 11-race closing day program with a four-win edge, 12-8, over Horacio Karamanos and Angel Cruz during the boutique nine-day stand after taking Race 10 with Rustys Gfivefifty ($14.40). Karamanos was held without a win while Cruz moved into a second-place tie with a victory aboard Bomboloni ($10.80) in Race 3.

Riding with a five-pound weight allowance, Barbosa previously won Laurel Park’s 2022 spring meet. Represented by agent Tom Stift, he rode his first professional race Jan. 1 in Puerto Rico where he posted three wins before coming to the U.S. March 23. Two days later Barbosa made his mainland debut at Laurel and won with each of his first two mounts, Heliacal Rising and Ludicrous Mode.

Barbosa was a seven-pound bug when he edged Jevian Toledo, 20-19, this spring to become just the third apprentice in the past decade to lead Laurel’s jockey standings following Yomar Ortiz (2013 winter) and Julio Correa (2019 summer). Charlie Marquez, 19, began last year’s extended Preakness Meet at Pimlico as an apprentice before becoming a journeyman in late May and finishing as leading rider.

Barbosa won twice on opening day, Sept. 9, and registered wins with three consecutive mounts Sept. 16. He notched another hat trick Sept. 24 including a stakes-quality allowance triumph aboard English Tavern over Grade 1 winner Decorated Invader and fellow graded-stakes winners Wootton Asset and Fancy Liquor. On the same card he ran second with Whispurring Kitten in the $100,000 Sensible Lady Turf Dash.

Dale Capuano, Jamie Ness, Jerry Robb and Mario Serey Jr. finished in a four-way tie for leading trainer with four wins apiece. All four sent out winners Sunday, including back-to-back scores for Capuano with Bomboloni in Race 3 and Jackie A ($7.60) in Race 4.

Serey Jr. won Race 2 with Silent Service ($35.80), his lone starter of the day. Ness followed with Angelofcanterbury ($12.40) in Race 5 and Robb won Race 7 with Bernie’s On Fire ($4). Ness had a chance to claim the title outright with his final starter, but favored Seiche ran second to Rustys Gfivefifty in Race 10.

Capuano won or shared 18 meet titles at Pimlico between 1988 and 2010, the last time he was leading trainer. The winner of 3,636 career races also owns 13 titles at Laurel Park, the most recent coming in spring 2007.

Ness, second in overall wins this year in Maryland to five-time defending champion Claudio Gonzalez, led Pimlico for the fourth time and first since spring 2019. Robb previously Pimlico’s 2018 spring meet title and also owns three Laurel championships. The title was his first in Maryland for Serey, who won the $75,000 Shine Again Sept. 10 with Swayin to and Fro.

Gonzalez and Michael Trombetta tied for second with three wins each. Gonzalez was blanked with three starters Sunday while Trombetta had one win from six starters, Foxtrot Seville ($15.20) in the opener.

Maryland Jockey Club Press Release

Main photo: Mike Maker (Keeneland Photo)

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