This coming Saturday, Mike Maker has General a Rod in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park and Vicar's in Trouble set for the Risen Star at Fair Grounds. So where will he be?
“That hasn’t been decided yet,” said 29-year-old assistant trainer Joe Sharp, who's been doing the hands-on oversight of Vicar's in Trouble. He intimated that maybe Maker will stay put in South Florida. Sharp serves as a second set of eyes and ears for Maker.
Vicar's in Trouble breezed for the Risen Star on Sunday at the track, going five furlongsin 1:01.20 (8/72).
“We talk about every horse every day," Sharp said. "Mike Maker is a very good trainer and a great guy to work for. I’ve learned a lot from him in the two and a half years I’ve worked for him and I’m learning more every day.”
“I’m here for Mike in New Orleans and also with him in New York and Kentucky,” Sharp said. “I’m not in any great rush to go out on my own. The way I look at it here, I’m getting paid to go to school to do something I like to do, anyway.”
Sharp has been around horses all his life. He was born in Martinsburg, West Virginia, to a father who trained and galloped horses around West Virginia’s Shenandoah Downs. His mother still gallops horses.
“I grew up hanging out in tack rooms,” Sharp said. “I was a jockey for about a year riding at Canterbury and a little bit around Maryland and West Virginia before I got into the training end of things. I worked for Mike Stidham for about five and a half or six years before I started with Mike Maker.”
Two and a half years ago, Sharp married Rosie Napravnik, and together they have a home in New Orleans and have bought a house in Louisville.
“We’re pretty lucky because for most of the year we’re pretty much on the same circuit,” Sharp said. “From here we go to Keeneland and Churchill and we’re together at Belmont and Saratoga as well. Also, Rosie and I both serve as foster parents to several dogs. In fact, this one right here that Rosie adopted is in the dog house right now. This one is doing jail time.
“On our days off, we like to take all of them to the dog park,” Sharp concluded, “but believe it or not, we also like to go trail riding on our days off.”
Edited Fair Grounds release