07/15/2010 11:00PM

For Sid Martin, a tackroom full of memories

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- After 57 years as a trainer, Sid Martin disbanded his stable last year, ending a long and illustrious career. In a career that began in 1943 as a hot walker at Hastings, Martin made it to the biggest stage in racing, finishing third as the trainer of Diablo in the 1975 Kentucky Derby.

Martin, 81, decided to call it quits due to physical problems.

"My knees won't take it any more," said Martin. "Just bending down to put bandages on became too painful."

Martin was born in New Brunswick and moved to the Vancouver area when he was 4 years old. He remembers the trip across Canada as being a harrowing experience.

"We were hauling a trailer but it was more like a caboose and back then," said Martin. "There wasn't anything to stop you from going over the edge of the road, I remember my mom being very upset when we were hanging over 4,000-foot drops going across the Rockies. I think we had 36 flat tires along the way."

Things were a lot different at Hastings in 1943. Martin first got exposed to racing in a round-about way through a bookmaker, which was a respectable profession then.

"It was during the war and I had four brothers overseas," said Martin. My fifth brother, Stan, was allowed to stay home and support the family. He was stationed in Vernon with the reserves where he met Ab Forshaw, who was a bookmaker and he also owned horses. I weighed about 75 pounds and Stan told him I was small and that it didn't look like I was ever going to get big. Ab gave Stan a note that I took to the track and that's how I got started."

Martin remembers that he was supposed to get paid $5 a week but the trainer that hired him was hard to find on payday.

"It worked out pretty good for me, though," said Martin. "Sleepy Armstrong, who helped get John Longden started, saw me standing around and offered me a job for $8 a week and told me I could hot-walk his horses with a pony. Four years later I am riding for Sleepy at Longacres."

Martin spent most of his 67 years at the track as a trainer, but he also had a short and successful career as a jockey. He was the second leading rider at Longacres in 1947 and he led the standings at Playfair the same year.

Weight forced him to quit riding following the 1948 season. After four years of being a valet, he started training horses for Vancouver businessman Chuck Charles.

Martin's training career took off when he connected with Mike Glaspie of Fairmeade Farm in the early '60s. They won the 1964 B.C. Futurity with Clockless, and finished one-two in the 1965 Premiers with Costa Rica and Fleet Runner.

California was the place to be, though, and Martin headed there to train privately for Colin Campbell. Martin's reputation was quickly established when Everything Lovely won four stakes races for him. In 1970 he formed a public stable, and among his clients was Frank McMahon, who had won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness with Majestic Prince in 1969. One of the horses Martin trained for McMahon was Diablo. He won the Del Mar Futurity and the California Derby before finishing third in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. He also ran in the Belmont, finishing fourth.

"He was something special," said Martin. "He always needed to be doing something. To try and keep him calm I had a tetherball hung up in his stall and he would bang it around with his head. Sometimes when he was laying down he reach up and kick it, too."

Martin won a total of 20 stakes races in California before returning to Vancouver in 1985.

"I loved the racing in California and it was nice to be there when it was in its heyday," he said. "But I missed the seasons."

He met Marshall Naify in California, and when Martin returned to Vancouver he always had a couple of horses owned by Naify -- racing as 505 Farms -- in his barn.

"One of my proudest accomplishments was winning the Sadie Diamond and Jack Diamond futurites with horses he owned on the same weekend," said Martin. "I think I was one of the last ones to talk to him before he died. He passed away on a Monday and one of his horses I trained paid $40 when she won a stakes race at Longacres on Sunday."

What stands out to Martin when he looks back are the people he met in his long career.

"There have been so many great people," said Martin. "Like Joe Hirsch, who wrote for the Racing Form. What a gentleman. When I was with Diablo at Churchill Downs you couldn't move without a reporter jumping all over you. Joe showed me how to sneak away and he would never write anything negative about anybody. After Diablo ran third he told me I would be back. I told him no, not from where I came from."

Among the many people Martin recalled was Duane Onstad, an owner who died last year. When Martin returned to Vancouver he teamed up with Onstad and they changed the way the game was played here by being very aggressive at the claim box.

"We ruffled a few feathers," said Martin.

Since he retired, Martin still enjoys coming to the races and he sometimes comes out in the mornings.

"I was very fortunate to be involved in horse racing, and about 97 percent of the time I loved being at the track," said Martin. "If I was able to I would probably be happy just walking a few horses. No complaints, though, it was a great run."

Martin, who was inducted into the B.C. Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1990, could have added - "and a spectacular career."VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- After 57 years as a trainer, Sid Martin disbanded his stable last year, ending a long and illustrious career. In a career that began in 1943 as a hot walker at Hastings, Martin made it to the biggest stage in racing, finishing third as the trainer of Diablo in the 1975 Kentucky Derby.

Martin, 81, decided to call it quits due to physical problems.

"My knees won't take it any more," said Martin. "Just bending down to put bandages on became too painful."

Martin was born in New Brunswick and moved to the Vancouver area when he was 4 years old. He remembers the trip across Canada as being a harrowing experience.

"We were hauling a trailer but it was more like a caboose and back then," said Martin. "There wasn't anything to stop you from going over the edge of the road, I remember my mom being very upset when we were hanging over 4,000-foot drops going across the Rockies. I think we had 36 flat tires along the way."

Things were a lot different at Hastings in 1943. Martin first got exposed to racing in a round-about way through a bookmaker, which was a respectable profession then.

"It was during the war and I had four brothers overseas," said Martin. My fifth brother, Stan, was allowed to stay home and support the family. He was stationed in Vernon with the reserves where he met Ab Forshaw, who was a bookmaker and he also owned horses. I weighed about 75 pounds and Stan told him I was small and that it didn't look like I was ever going to get big. Ab gave Stan a note that I took to the track and that's how I got started."

Martin remembers that he was supposed to get paid $5 a week but the trainer that hired him was hard to find on payday.

"It worked out pretty good for me, though," said Martin. "Sleepy Armstrong, who helped get John Longden started, saw me standing around and offered me a job for $8 a week and told me I could hot-walk his horses with a pony. Four years later I am riding for Sleepy at Longacres."

Martin spent most of his 67 years at the track as a trainer, but he also had a short and successful career as a jockey. He was the second leading rider at Longacres in 1947 and he led the standings at Playfair the same year.

Weight forced him to quit riding following the 1948 season. After four years of being a valet, he started training horses for Vancouver businessman Chuck Charles.

Martin's training career took off when he connected with Mike Glaspie of Fairmeade Farm in the early '60s. They won the 1964 B.C. Futurity with Clockless, and finished one-two in the 1965 Premiers with Costa Rica and Fleet Runner.

California was the place to be, though, and Martin headed there to train privately for Colin Campbell. Martin's reputation was quickly established when Everything Lovely won four stakes races for him. In 1970 he formed a public stable, and among his clients was Frank McMahon, who had won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness with Majestic Prince in 1969. One of the horses Martin trained for McMahon was Diablo. He won the Del Mar Futurity and the California Derby before finishing third in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. He also ran in the Belmont, finishing fourth.

"He was something special," said Martin. "He always needed to be doing something. To try and keep him calm I had a tetherball hung up in his stall and he would bang it around with his head. Sometimes when he was laying down he reach up and kick it, too."

Martin won a total of 20 stakes races in California before returning to Vancouver in 1985.

"I loved the racing in California and it was nice to be there when it was in its heyday," he said. "But I missed the seasons."

He met Marshall Naify in California, and when Martin returned to Vancouver he always had a couple of horses owned by Naify -- racing as 505 Farms -- in his barn.

"One of my proudest accomplishments was winning the Sadie Diamond and Jack Diamond futurites with horses he owned on the same weekend," said Martin. "I think I was one of the last ones to talk to him before he died. He passed away on a Monday and one of his horses I trained paid $40 when she won a stakes race at Longacres on Sunday."

What stands out to Martin when he looks back are the people he met in his long career.

"There have been so many great people," said Martin. "Like Joe Hirsch, who wrote for the Racing Form. What a gentleman. When I was with Diablo at Churchill Downs you couldn't move without a reporter jumping all over you. Joe showed me how to sneak away and he would never write anything negative about anybody. After Diablo ran third he told me I would be back. I told him no, not from where I came from."

Among the many people Martin recalled was Duane Onstad, an owner who died last year. When Martin returned to Vancouver he teamed up with Onstad and they changed the way the game was played here by being very aggressive at the claim box.

"We ruffled a few feathers," said Martin.

Since he retired, Martin still enjoys coming to the races and he sometimes comes out in the mornings.

"I was very fortunate to be involved in horse racing, and about 97 percent of the time I loved being at the track," said Martin. "If I was able to I would probably be happy just walking a few horses. No complaints, though, it was a great run."

Martin, who was inducted into the B.C. Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1990, could have added -- "and a spectacular career."