Golden Gate Fields is saddened to report the loss of longtime Northern California racehorse trainer John F. “Mickey” Martin, who has passed away at the age of 63 after a lengthy illness.
Martin, who saddled his first starter in 1984, trained Quarter Horses early in his career before transitioning to Thoroughbreds. He campaigned over 2,300 winners of both breeds. From 7,707 thoroughbred starters, Martin won 1,960 races and amassed purse earnings of $23,835,366.
“With the recent passing of Duane Offield and now John, it’s been a rough couple of weeks,” said Golden Gate Fields vice president and general manager David Duggan. “We are still trying to process this loss. John was a well-respected figure amongst his peers. He was the type of person that would help anybody if they needed it. He was a terrific horseman and had a very successful and distinguished career. We extend our best wishes and thoughts to his family and large group of friends.”
Martin mentored numerous horsemen who have gone on to achieve success in the sport of kings. Among his students were Jonathan Wong, who went out on his own in 2015 and has been the perennial leading trainer in Northern California since 2018, and Reid France, who began training his own string in 2019 and has scored at a strong 26%-win clip since.
“John was just a great guy,” said owner Troy Onorato, a longtime client and friend of Martin’s who runs Hat Trick Racing Stable. “He helped and mentored so many people throughout his life and never sought attention for helping people. He was focused and dedicated on taking care of his horses, but always tried to do the right thing.”
Martin’s best and favorite horse to train was Mended, a filly he claimed for $12,500 in 2017 at Golden Gate who went on to win 10 consecutive times, including the Claiming Crown Glass Slipper at Gulfstream Park that same year. On the day her win streak was snapped – Jan. 13, 2018 – she lost by a head in the Grade 2 La Canada Stakes at Santa Anita. Two months later, she finished as the runner-up again, this time in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita. Among other notable Martin trainees were stakes winners Force, Me My Mine and She’s Sensational.
“Mended put us on a phenomenal ride,” said Onorato, who owned Mended along with his wife Maritza. “People would always say how well we campaigned Mended and other horses. I told them, ‘We’re just following the John Martin playbook.’ John was a terrific horseman.”
Services for John Martin are pending.