04/16/2003 11:00PM

Maker, a Lukas grad, going on own

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Mike Maker, who has served as a top assistant to trainer D. Wayne Lukas for the last eight years, is opening his own stable, effective as early as next Saturday.

Maker, 34, began working as a foreman for Lukas in 1994 and was promoted to assistant the following year. Charismatic, Cat Thief, Orientate, Surfside, and Spain were some of the Lukas stars with whom Maker was closely associated.

By branching out, Maker becomes the latest of several Lukas assistants - including Mark Hennig, Todd Pletcher, and Dallas Stewart - who have gone on to solo training careers.

"I'll be starting with about 15 horses at Churchill Downs," said Maker. He said he might have his first starter as soon as Churchill's opening day, April 26.