04/14/2016 3:18PM

Maker suspended for 40 days, plans to appeal

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Mike Maker

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Mike Maker, the trainer of the winner of Turfway Park’s major Kentucky Derby prep, has been handed a 40-day suspension by Kentucky stewards for a drug positive after a race at Turfway in January, a penalty that Maker said he plans to appeal.

The suspension is scheduled to start April 24, which would prevent Maker from starting Oscar Nominated, who won the Spiral Stakes at Turfway nearly two weeks ago, in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 7. By appealing the penalty, Maker can delay the start of the suspension until his appeal is heard, likely well after the Triple Crown is over.

Oscar Nominated, by Kitten’s Joy, is owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, and Ken Ramsey has said he plans to pay a $200,000 supplemental fee to make the horse eligible for the Derby. DRF’s DerbyWatch estimates that Oscar Nominated would be 30-1 in a theoretical 20-horse field for the race.

Maker, reached on Thursday, said he would appeal the penalty whether he had a Derby horse in his barn or not, contending that he does not know how the drug, dextrorphan, found its way into his horse’s post-race sample.

“If you don’t do the crime, you don’t do the time,” Maker said.

According to officials, dextrorphan is the metabolite of an ingredient once found commonly in cough medicine, dextromethorphan, and though it is a Class B drug under the Association of Racing Commissioners International list, the substance has not been found in post-race horse samples in recent memory, if at all. Dextromethorphan can act as a cough suppressant and has mildly psychoactive properties, like many similarly structured drugs.

“From what they tell me, it’s in cough syrup,” said Maker. “I have no clue how it got there. I assume it could be contamination, but I don’t know for sure.”

The positive was detected in the post-race sample of Harlan’s Howling, who won the sixth race at Turfway on Jan. 9. Harlan’s Howling was the second choice in the $18,000 maiden special weight race and won by 1 1/4 lengths.

Maker ranked 11th among trainers in North America last year with $7.6 million in earnings. He is regularly a leading trainer on the Kentucky circuit.

Barbara Borden, the Kentucky state steward, said she could not discuss details of the case because of the likelihood that Maker would appeal the penalty.

Ed Kay More than 1 year ago

Oh the glass house residents who can’t be bothered to exercise even a modicum of judgement. You know, the ones who incessantly use the word “all”, so proud of their routine failure to separate the wheat from the chaff. Such tedium.


Horse racing, like any endeavor – other sports, business ventures, financial investments, medical practice, etc -  has its share of cheats amidst a host of good people. Using the blanket “all”, instead of working to identify the cheats, hinders, rather than helps to root them out.

amber More than 1 year ago
they all cheat  assmussenincluded
amber More than 1 year ago
they all juice

Marlene Gallahan More than 1 year ago
Sounds like he risked not have a Derby horse in his barn for a $18,000 maiden special weight winner with a cough.  One of those things that make you go, "hmm"!

Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
Derby watch estimated Oscar Nominated would 30/1 in the derby ..is that with or without cough syrup ?.
Mike Eves More than 1 year ago
Maker cheat, no way.  I'm sure the horse came down with a cough, hopped in his ride and headed over to the pharmacy for a bottle of Buckelys.  It works, but it tastes awful. Doesn't it Mike ? Enjoy your 40. Should be 40 years.
MsTBredRacing More than 1 year ago
Lol. So true. It hasn't been a secret that he's not on the up and up. 
frorgF More than 1 year ago
Is his beady eyed face that of an innocent man? Without Ramsey,  Maker couldn't train a duck to water.  
frorgF More than 1 year ago
the man I so crooked he cant lay straight in bed
RingForFrodo More than 1 year ago
Notice Mr Maker's horse in the fifth race last week at Keeneland sprouted wings after the claim and was hammered in the windows, paying only $5 and change, despite racing poorly in it's last start.  Guess the gamblers in Kentucky know who the super trainers are and weren't fooled.