02/07/2008 12:00AM

Charles Martens, former rider, dies


Charles "Buddy" Martens, a retired jockey and the father of Belmont Stakes-winning rider George Martens, died Jan. 25 at a hospital near his home in Edmond, Okla. He was 77.

Martens, who had battled cancer, spent the bulk of his racing career in New York. He was a contract rider for the Brookmeade stable operation trained by Preston Burch in the late 1940s and early 1950s, said Tony McNeil, a jockey married to Martens's daughter, Cheryl.

After retiring from race riding, Martens galloped horses for Greentree Stables, among them the 1953 Horse of Year, Tom Fool.

He also was a longtime employee of the admissions department at the New York Racing Association.

"He kept up with racing," said McNeil. "He was a good man."

In addition to his daughter, Martens is survived by his wife, Dolores, and a son, George, who won the 1981 Belmont on Summming. His grandchildren include Bryan McNeil, a jockey based at Oaklawn.