Horses

Jose Martinez

November 26, 1941 ~ February 8, 2024 (age 82) 82 Years Old

Jose Martinez Obituary

Jose Martinez, a top New England horse trainer in his day, died February 8, 2024, after a long illness, he was 82. The native of Cuba had been a stalwart on the New England thoroughbred scene, building a stable with his father that spanned more than 40 years and thousands of victories at race tracks in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. He once told a local reporter after his retirement. "I met some great people and had about 2400 winners, I was never a high -powered guy, stayed in the minors, and liked to take on horses with problems." 

  He was most proud of returning a 6-year-old named Wee Thunder to winning form in 1996. The Florida bred bay came back to win seven of nine starts, including the $50,000 Mario Beneito Memorial Handicap at Penn National Race Course, where he also set a track record for a mile and 70 yards. Martinez ran horses up and down the East Coast, even helping run a thoroughbred rehabilitation and training center in New Hampshire and a breeding farm in Florida. He closed out his training days at Penn National and Presque Isle Downs, where he later served as associate director of the Horseman's Benevolent & Protective Association.

  He was born in Havana, Cuba, Martinez immigrated to the United States with his parents and older brother in 1947. The small family moved from town to town along racing circuits before settling in Pawtucket, R.I. Martinez often recalled his mother teaching the boys English and learning the language herself from comic books. Dulce Maria Bande de Martinez also insisted on enrolling her sons in school wherever they moved, despite local racing meets lasting only weeks at a time.   Her efforts paid off, with the Martinez brothers, Jose and Armando, graduating from Tolman High School in Pawtucket and later earning degrees from Emerson College. Armando went on to Harvard University, teaching and government service; Jose briefly sought a life in theater.   We came to the United States after my father rode in Mexico City and, thanks to my mother, Dulce Maria, I had a good education, Martinez told the Erie Times-News. " I went to college in Massachusetts, studied English and wrote a couple of plays. But as time went by, I realized my real love was horse racing, and still is"

   His father was a jockey Armando F. Martinez, who started riding in Cuba as a teenager along with three of his brothers. In New England, the elder Martinez would become a local legend, famously riding a horse named Charlie Boy to 52 of his 58 wins. Yet the jockey never wanted his sons to heed the call of the winner's circle. "He tried to chase me off the racetrack, but I used to sneak in under the rail and watch him anyway."   Horse Racing is a hard business. Martinez married and divorced three times.

Away from the barns, Martinez dabbled in theater, performing in community productions including roles in Shakespear in the Park in Harrisburg. As a teenager, he appeared as one of the jitterbug dancers on a local pop music program. The Jack Spector Show. He sang karaoke whenever possible, loved fishing and all professional sports.  Martinez also fought for racing's underdogs_ the horse owners, trainers, riders, grooms and other stable hands who tend to the horses seven days a week to make racing possible. He was an active member of the HBPA wherever he moved the stable.  He was a voracious reader who loved politics and history and once aspired to be a journalist having witnessed the Cuban Revolution first-hand. The family had returned to Havana for Christmas in 1959 and were still there as President Fulgencio Batista fled the island and rebel leader Fidel Castro began to march on Havana. The Martinez boys credited a news clipping mailed to their relatives by a friend back in Pawtucket as helping them return to the United States at ll.  Mr. Martinez is pre-deceased by his parents, Armando F. Martinez and Dulce Maria Bande de Martinez; and two of his wives, Catherine Joan (Foster) Martinez and Debra Jane (Winkler) Pack. 

Mr. Martinez is survived  by brother Armando Martinez of Boston: former wife Vickey Perez Martinez of Clearwater, Fl.; and Children Dulce Martinez of Grantville, Penn.;Jose Martinez and his wife; Catalina Martinez partner Jim Roche of Narragansett, RI: Jose Martinez and his wife Kimberly Fullum-Martinez of Newton, MA: Joseph Russo and his wife Rio LaCour of No. East, MD; Margaret Pete of Lancaster, PA.; Lisveth Estrada of Clearwater, Fl.; and Honey Ross and her husband Mark Huck of Swansea, MA. He leaves 6 Grandchildren, Robert, Jose, Vladimiro, Sandrine, Scarlett and Landyn_ and many cousins.

Burial will be private at Evergreen Cemetery in Boston. A celebration of life will be held at a later date.

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