SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.—Veteran conditioner Mike Maker secured the 3,000th victory of his career when Palatial Times took down Race 5 on Friday at Ellis Park.
Maker celebrated the victory when Gerardo Corrales piloted the son of Palace Malice from off the pace to take the lead at the head of the stretch and hold off a late challenge from Money for Mischief to win by 2 1/4 lengths.
“Every milestone is important, especially to the staff and clientele that have supported us over the years,” Maker said. “All credit to them, my name is just down as trainer.”
Maker, 53, began his racing endeavors in his native Michigan when walking hots for his father, George Maker, at Hazel Park Raceway and the now-defunct Detroit Race Course. Maker bought his first horse at age 13 with earnings from his Detroit Free Press paper route and won his first start. After working as an assistant for his father, Maker accepted a job with Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas in 1993 and 10 years later, started his own stable.
In 2004, Maker earned his first graded-stakes win when Freefourinternet won the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap. Maker would go on to score his first Grade 1 in style when Furthest Land captured the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in 2009 at Santa Anita.
Since then, Maker has conditioned two other Breeders’ Cup winners in 2011 Juvenile victor Hansen, who went on to be awarded the Eclipse Award for Champion 2-Year-Old Colt, and Fire at Will in the 2020 Juvenile Turf. Other top Grade 1 performers for Maker include Zulu Alpha, Bigger Picture, Henley’s Joy, Stately Victor, Admiral Kitten, Kitten’s Dumplings, Joha, King David, Al’s Gal, and Aquaphobia. He also trained Da Big Hoss to five graded-stakes victories, capped by half-length win in the 2016 Grade 2 Elkhorn.
“There’s been so many good horses – Hansen, Zulu Alpha, Da Big Hoss – and so many more if I sat down to think about it,” Maker said has he reflected on his most memorable runners. “I wouldn’t want to discredit anyone. There’s also a lot of lesser horses that no one’s heard of.”
Maker enjoyed a career year in 2021 in purses earned [$14.9 million], ranking him as the fifth highest-earning trainer in North America for the year. Last year saw him visit the winner’s circle for 13 graded events, including the Grade 2 Bowling Green with Cross Border and Grade 2 Dinner Party with Somelikeithotbrown, both New York-bred millionaires. In total, Maker boats nearly $140 million in total purse earnings and over 4,200 other on-the-board finishes.
Maker said he looks forward to continuing to leave his mark in the industry.
“I still love the game,” said Maker.
NYRA Press Office
Photo: Mike Maker after Special Reserve won the 2021 Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix G2 at Keeneland. (Keeneland/Coady)