Friday, 28 July 2017 10:53

Third-generation Trainer Hoping for Another Successful Saratoga Season

By Tony Podlaski | Sports

For any longtime New York horse racing fan, the Martin family is pretty much a household name.
Frank “Pancho” Martin was a Hall of Fame trainer who led the New York circuit from 1973-1982. Along with winning 3,241 career races for more than $47.5 million in purses, his grandfather trained Sham (second to Secretariat in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness), Autobiography (Jockey Club Gold Cup winner), and Outstandingly (inaugural Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner).
Jose Martin also had a presence in the New York circuit by winning 1,139 races for over $20 million purses. He trained champions that included Groovy (top sprinter in 1987), Wayward Lass (top 3-year-old filly in 1981), and Lakeville Miss (top 2-year-old filly in 1977).
Carlos Martin has been trying to follow the success with 676 winners and over $25.1 million in purses. Along with assisting in the development of graded stakes winners Cosmonaut, Roar Emotion, and Key Contender, Martin won stakes races with his own horses including Buy the Firm, Comacina, Night Maneuver, and Thunderestimate.
To remain competitive, the 48-year-old third-generation trainer made a change last year by bringing horses to Saratoga in early July – something his father and grandfather had never done.
“My grandfather and father were successful for many years, and they would never do that. They would come to Saratoga a day before the meet,” Martin said. “It’s not a bad idea to get the horses up here early. A lot of the trainers who have success here seem to have everything planned. It seems it does make a little bit of a difference.”
That change seemed to make a difference. At the end of last season’s Saratoga meet, Martin had six winners with just 26 starters, including back-to-back winner Greyjoy.
This year, Martin decided to bring 17 of his 29 horses to Saratoga a little bit earlier – near the end of June. Within the first two days of the meet, three of Martin’s horses have run well since shipping earlier at Saratoga: Glorious Empire, Distorted Admiral, and Scatback.
Off the claim, Glorious Empire was a going-away winner in Saturday’s last race on the grass for owner Matthew Schera. Distorted Admiral finished second to runaway winner Mr. Crow in a relatively-quick time of 1:09.44 for six furlongs. Scatback finished fourth over the turf course in her debut.
While Martin was pleased with Glorious Empire, he was impressed Distorted Admiral making his second career start off a near-year layoff with a series of strong workouts over the Oklahoma track.
“He had been training well over the dirt,” Martin said about Distorted Admiral, owned by Randall Wojdyla. “Every time he went a half mile, he would keep galloping out. He would work 48 seconds, then gallop out in 1:14 or 1:15. He ran great. No matter how many works a horse may have, the race is always going to move them up five lengths.”
Martin would like to see a similar outcome of last year, but he knows it is a challenge, especially when he is competing against trainers like Chad Brown, Todd Pletcher, Kiaran McLaughlin, Shug McGaughey, Christophe Clement, and several others.
“When I go into a race, I am surrounded by [current and future] Hall of Fame trainers,” Martin said. “I am honored to be in that setting. To stay at this this level as long as we have, I think it’s an accomplishment. It is not easy to stay in New York and run against the best of the best, year in and year out.”
Along with having his horses run well, Martin said he would like to find a bargain by claiming horses and recondition them in the right races. Last year, he claimed Farhaan for $40,000 in a 10-way shake (where the next owner is chosen randomly), then raced the horse just over two weeks later in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch and missed winning that race by a length to Ring Weekend.
Besides Scatback, Martin said he has other promising 2-year-olds owned by Scherer and Blue Devil Stables, but they may need more time before they run.
“I have a couple of two-year-olds that I like, but I don’t know if they are going to make the meet,” Martin said. “I don’t like to rush them. I know everyone likes to run at Saratoga, but I am trying to resist the temptation.”
While Martin has adapted to the sport, one thing does remain the same – the location of his barn. Every year, Martin has made every effort to make sure he has horses in Barn 31 near Saratoga’s far turn – the same barn his father.
“My father was here for many years,” Martin said. “He set the tone and we have been able to keep the barn for many years. He told me when I was a kid, ‘Try to do whatever you have to do to keep coming to Saratoga to keep this spot. If you don’t have this barn full, somebody was going to jump in and take it.’ It has been a great spot for many years.”

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