Trainer Frank “Pancho” Martin, who was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1981, died Wednesday night. He was 86.
Martin, who was born in Cuba on Dec. 3, 1925, won 3,240 races and had purse earnings of $47,586,039, according to Equibase statistics. After stints in New England and Florida, Martin arrived in New York in 1951 and led that circuit in victories 11 times, including 10 straight years from 1973-1982. He led the nation in purse earnings with $2,408,419 in 1974. He won individual meet training titles at Aqueduct six times, Belmont four times, and Saratoga twice.
On his introduction to racing, Martin said: “I lived two blocks from Oriental Park when I was growing up, and the only things to do were to go to work on the track or play baseball. I was a lousy ballplayer.”
Martin trained Autobiography, champion older horse in 1972 when he won the Jockey Club Gold Cup; and Outstandingly, champion 2-year-old filly in 1984, when she was awarded the win in the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies via disqualification. Outstandingly was owned by Harbor View Farm, which Martin trained for from 1983-86.
The most famous horse Martin trained was Sham, winner of the 1973 Santa Anita Derby and runner-up to Secretariat in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Martin’s other notable runners include 1959 Wood Memorial winner Manassa Mauler, 1974 Wood winner Rube the Great, 1971 Brooklyn Handicap winner Never Bow, and 1972 Suburban Handicap winner Hitchcock. Other major races won by Martin’s horses include the Santa Anita Handicap, Jersey Derby, Gotham, Monmouth Handicap, Lawrence Realization, Count Fleet, Whirlaway, and Toboggan.
Martin was honored with the New York Turf Writers Association’s Outstanding Trainer Award in 1971, 1974, and 1982, and also received the organization’s award as New York’s Champion Trainer in 1971, 1973, 1976-79, and 1981. Martin’s grandson, Carlos Martin, is currently a trainer on the NYRA circuit.