06/07/2009 11:00PM

Trainer profile: Joseph Martin


Trainer Joseph Martin can do little wrong at Presque Isle Downs right now. The leading trainer there, his attack seems to be fueled by fresh runners who are firing quite consistently in their first or second trips over this surface upon shipping in from Arkansas or West Virginia.

"Everything has just gone really well for us since we got here," Martin said. "I think my horses just handle this surface really well. We come every year by way of Oaklawn Park, and I think something about coming off that surface just has our stock really ready. They get fit there, come here, and perform very well. Last year, it worked quite well because we weren't even here until July 4, and we still made third leading trainer.

"Our stock also seems to have pedigree to help. We have horses with Storm Cat, Victory Gallop, and others in their bloodlines that seem well suited for the surface at Presque Isle."

Martin has a couple of brothers that also train - Tim in Iowa and Bill in West Virginia - and it creates a pretty interesting dynamic, particularly for him and Bill.

"I am partners with Bill on Royal Training Center in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where we train over a sand-like course that is very much like Oaklawn and gets our horses ready quite well," Martin said. "This time of year, Bill has 32 stalls at Mountaineer, and I have 16 here at Presque Isle, and since we race many horses in partnership under Martin Brothers Inc., we often rotate stock based on where they fit best.

"I'd say about three or four times a week, we meet about halfway between our locations at a rest area on Route 11 and swap five horses. We never even move a horse - just unhook trailers we have, hook back up, and drive on our way."

Martin, 43, has numbers that suggest he does well with fresh stock, keeps his runners sharp, and places them at realistic class levels.

"I try and run them where they belong and wait for my race to come up," he explained. "As a result, we can have some claimed from us, but we place them where we can win. Sometimes, I'll take a chance and get a little out of line if I feel the perfect distance presents itself. The conditions of the race may not be perfect, but if the right distance suits the right horse, they can sometimes come through."

Martin's numbers also pay far greater dividends in routes compared to sprints, winning at double the rate and producing a positive return on investment.

"I think that is probably just a function of what is in the barn," Martin said. "But, you need the right type of horse to get a distance of ground, and I think the good horses in the barn right now tend to be the ones that will get a route distance for you."

Martin has very strong numbers with beginners as well, so keep an eye tuned for some juveniles likely to pop in the Presque Isle entry box before long.

"We have a number of 2-year-olds for the races that we are just waiting on to be ready with," he said. "My sister Sharon also has 15 2-year-olds in Arkansas right now at a training center where she is the farm manager, and that should give us more to work with. Most of my owners are breeders, and we like to get young horses ready."

Martin, who has won at a 10 percent to 15 percent clip pretty consistently dating back to 1990, is leading the trainer standings at Presque Isle right now, with a record of 10-5-7 from 46 starts. His numbers are incredibly strong when compared to his overall record of 14 for 111 on the year. Last year at Presque Isle, he performed well enough (129-24-21-16, $2.69 return on investment) to expect strong results.

Cryptolight, a 5-year-old son of Fantastic Light with six wins and more than $225,000 in purses, is the barn's star and spends time alternately between Joe and Bill's barns based upon his next race. He most recently finished second on June 6 for Bill in stakes company at Mountaineer.

"He'll come up to us to run in the stakes up here at one and one-sixteenth miles, at which he holds the track record," Joe said.