11/23/2006 12:00AM

Jose Martin, trainer, dies at 63

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Jose Martin, who trained three champions during a career that spanned nearly 40 years, died Wednesday after a five-year bout with lung cancer. He was 63.

A native of Havana, Cuba, Martin came to the United States at the age of 17 and began working for his father, the Hall of Fame trainer Frank "Pancho" Martin, the following year. Jose Martin began training on his own in 1967 and trained Lakeville Miss, the champion 2-year-old filly of 1977; Wayward Lass, the champion 3-year-old filly of 1981; and Groovy, the champion sprinter of 1987.

Other top stakes winners trained by Martin included Noble Nashua, Chelsey Flower, Goodbye Halo, Buy the Firm, and Shawi, who twice defeated Eclipse Award winner Proud Delta in 1977. Noble Nashua, who won the 1981 Marlboro Cup, was originally purchased for $49,000 and later syndicated for $11 million.

Martin is survived by his wife, Gloria; two sons, Carlos and Jose Jr.; a daughter, Gloria; a brother, Greg; as well as his father. Frank and Carlos Martin both train on the New York Racing Association circuit.

The family plans to hold a private memorial service.