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HRN Original Blog:
A New York State of Racing

Frank "Pancho" Martin, trainer of Sham, dies at 86

Frank "Pancho" Martin, one of the greatest trainers in the history of New York thoroughbred racing, died Wednesday night at the age of 86. The Hall of Famer trained horses on the New York circuit since 1951. His career included almost 19,000 starters with 3,240 winners and earnings over $47,000,000.
Martin was probably most famous as the trainer of  Sham, the horse that battled Secretariat in all three of the 1973 Triple Crown races. Sham may have been his most famous horse, but Martin dominated the trainer standings in New York in the 70’s and early 80’s.  While training for his primary owners Viola and Sigmund Sommer he won over 20 training titles. Martin was honored 10 times by the New York Turf Writers Association.
Martin trained two champions with Autobiography in 1972 and Outstandingly in 1984. Autobiography won the championship for Older Horses after winning the two-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup by 15 lengths defeating Key to the Mint and the Kentucky Derby winner Riva Ridge.  An Eclipse Award went to Outstandingly based on her wins in the 1984 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly by disqualification and the Hollywood Starlet.
The movie “Secretariat” brought Martin back into the limelight. In the film many of the characters and plot lines were changed. Martin was portrayed as confrontational and arrogant. Secretariat’s jockey, Ron Turcotte took offense at the way Martin was characterized in the movie, “Pancho is a wonderful person, always was.  I loved him, he was great to me and it hurt me to see the way he was portrayed.”
In the later years of his career Martin did not have many horses, yet he continued to train with 77 starters in 2012.  The legacy of Frank Martin has continued on the track through his son Jose, who trained through 2006, and his grandson Carlos, who is currently a regular on the NYRA circuit.


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Older Comments about Frank "Pancho" Martin, trainer of Sham, dies at 86...

Very sad to read that Frank "Pancho" Martin died at 86, however it's good to know that the Martin name will continue to be in racing with his grandson Carlos Martin.
Oh thats horrible
I remember watching the races back in Pancho's hayday thinking, "How does this man win so many races?"
Man got a very very raw deal in the movie.
how sadhe's gob
Tribute to Pancho! Job well done, Sir!
Pancho was one of a kind. This is a sad day.

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Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.


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