FRANKLIN, Ky.— Money Maker. Maker Magic. Maker Happen. Million Man Mike. Magic Mike. Pick your pun, but trainer Mike Maker has enjoyed an unprecedented run at the FanDuel Meet at Kentucky Downs.
After a record Saturday, Maker went out and won Sunday’s first race, a starter allowance with a $70,000 purse, with Just Say When. That gave him a record-breaking 11th victory of the meet, eclipsing the mark of 10 set by Wayne Catalano in 2013.
“Hopefully we keep going today,” Maker said before he went out and did just that Sunday. “The horses have been showing up, so we’re very grateful for that. We have a lot of horses that fit here, so we have high expectations coming into the meet.”
Just Say When gave Maker an 11-5 lead over his closest competitor (Wesley Ward) for the Kentucky Downs training title, which Maker has earned a record six times.
After the first five days of the seven-day session, Maker-trained horses have earned $2,000,289. That includes a cool $1,095,033 just on Saturday, highlighted by victories with Somelikeithotbrown ($1 million, G3 WinStar Mint Million) and Red Knight ($1 million, G2) Kentucky Turf Cup, which Maker won for a record fifth time.
“He ought to be the next trainer elected into the Hall of Fame,” Tom Egan, who owns Red Knight, said. “He doesn’t have the big feeder farm or Sheikhs or Princes sending him horses. He has made them on his own. If Mike has one fault, it’s that he doesn’t talk enough. He is a quiet, soft-spoken man but has extraordinary abilities to train horses.”
Maker also had seconds in Saturday’s six graded stakes with Atone (Mint Million), Artemus Citylimits ($1 million, G2 FanDuel Turf Sprint) and Run Curtis Run ($600,000, Franklin-Simpson). Maker also had a second with second-time starter Fire Baron in a maiden race.
As great as Maker’s day was, it would have been more had some of his leading horses been registered Kentucky-breds, most prominently the New York-born Somelikeithotbrown, Red Knight and Run Curtis Run as well as the Ontario-bred Artemus Citylimits. Had those horses been born in Kentucky and sired by a Kentucky stallion, Maker’s tally would have been another $692,325 Saturday, for a total of $1,787,358.
Maker doesn’t view it as money left on the table — that would be if his horses hadn’t run well. His view is that just the base purses for which all horses run at Kentucky Downs is lucrative.
“Whether they’re Kentucky-bred or not, where else are we going to find any race even worth half of what the Kentucky-breds race for?” he said.
“He points so many horses here,” said Peter Proscia, whose Paradise Farms Corp, has won four races at the Kentucky Downs meet, all with Maker. “He starts early in the summer to get ready for the September meet here. With the big pots, it’s really a no-brainer.”
“And,’’ added owner David Staudacher, who frequently partners with Proscia on horses, “he’s got the Maker Magic.”
Five of the six graded-stakes winners Saturday were bred outside Kentucky. Registered Kentucky-breds (foaled in the state and by a stallion standing in the commonwealth) benefit from lucrative purse supplements from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund.
Saturday’s six stakes winners, where they were born, what they earned:
$1 million WinStar Mint Million: Somelikeithotbrown (New York) Earned $330,770, missed out on $270,630
$1 million Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf: Dalika (Germany) Earned $334,180, missed out on $273,420.
$1 million FanDuel Turf Sprint: Bran (France) Earned $320,540, missed out on $262,260.
$1 million Kentucky Turf Cup: Red Knight (New York) Earned $317,130, missed out on $317,130
$1 million The Mint Ladies Sprint: Campanelle (Ireland) Earned $317,130, missed out on $259,470
$600,000 Franklin-Simpson: One Timer (Kentucky) Earned $345,960
Kentucky Downs Press Release
Photo: Kentucky Downs’ record-setter Mike Maker. Coady Photography