Maker Will Hit The Ground Running At Gulfstream

No one will be busier on Opening Day of Gulfstream Park’s 2017-18 Championship Meet than trainer Mike Maker, who has horses entered in all 11 races on Saturday’s $1.11 million Claiming Crown Day program.

Maker, 48, already holds the record with 15 Claiming Crown victories and owns four multi-win days topped by taking four of seven races in 2012, the first year the annual series – now in its 19thyear – was held at Gulfstream.

He has two horses entered in each of the three richest Claiming Crown races – the $200,000 Jewel, $125,000 Tiara and $125,000 Emerald. Maker has won the Emerald six times, the Jewel three times and the Tiara twice.

“A lot of times if they’re eligible for the Claiming Crown it kind of factors into whether we claim a horse or not. We’ve claimed a lot of horses over the years and pointed to the event. We’ve been able to have some success. It’s a great day,” Maker said. “I think it’s very important for the game. Since it’s been at Gulfstream it’s generated a great crowd and handle and more participation, it looks like, as the years go on.”      

Maker opens the Championship Meet in 50 horses between Gulfstream Park and Palm Meadows, its satellite training facility in Palm Beach County, and expects the number to be around 80 once the meet is in full swing. He finished third with 28 wins last winter, trailing 14-time defending champion Todd Pletcher and Jorge Navarro.

 

Among the horses Maker has penciled in for Gulfstream’s early stakes are recent River City Handicap (G3) winner Shining Copper in the $100,000 Tropical Turf (G3) Dec. 16 and Homemade Salsa, winner of the Juvenile Turf at Gulfstream Park West Nov. 11, in the $75,000 Wait a While Dec. 9.

“It’s a great place to be, a great place to spend the winter,” Maker said. “The racing is always very competitive and [we] have a bunch of full fields again on Saturday.”

On Thursday, Nov. 30, Maker earned his 2,000th career victory with Tomahawk Kitten at Turfway Park. The 2-year-old colt is a homebred of Maker’s biggest client, Ken and Sarah Ramsey, who also lead all Claiming Crown owners with 15 wins.

“It’s a nice accomplishment. There’s a lot of hands involved in all those victories as far as owners and staff. It tells me I’m getting old. Two thousands wins, it never crossed my mind,” Maker said. “We’re fortunate to have the clientele that send us the horses and give us these opportunities. We’ve been able to keep a staff that can work together and be happy.”

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