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Faces Of Racing: Thalia Martin

Published: June 24, 2019 10:04 am ET

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Leading up to the National Caretaker Appreciation Day events taking place on the weekend of July 19-21, Standardbred Canada will be profiling caretakers from across the country in our Faces of Racing series. The series continues with Thalia Martin of Foothills, Alberta.

Forty-five-year-old Thalia Martin of Foothills, Alta., has found a career path as a caretaker that spans over two decades. In 1998, Thalia was employed at a Thoroughbred breeding farm in British Columbia, but due to some unfortunate events, she was laid off and had to seek employment elsewhere.

“When I got laid off, I randomly drove around the countryside looking for farms. I found a spot with Standardbreds and began working the next day for Janice Wheeler, Ken Dorman and Grant Hollingsworth. I was hooked immediately,” she recalls.

Currently stabled in Calgary, Alta., working for Nathan Sobey Racing, Thalia has had the privilege of working for respected trainers in both British Columbia and Alberta during her 21 years in the industry.

Thalia Martin jogging Medicine Hat on a cold Alberta morning

“One trainer I have always respected and looked up to was Serge Masse. He taught me a lot and helped me become a more confident horse person,” she explained. “I also appreciated the time I worked for Keith Clark and Travis Umphrey.”

“I would have to say my favourite horse that I looked after was Furious Five, a Faldo Hanover mare. She was the first horse I ever helped foal, assisted in breaking, watched grow and flourish into an amazing race horse. Her and I always seemed to be reunited through the years and through different barns until she went to Ontario. She ended up making $572,720 lifetime. I have a ton of memories with her.”

Coming to the harness racing industry with a Thoroughbred breeding background, Thalia took a liking to how calm, versatile and resilient Standardbreds are.

“Seeing their faces every morning, happy to see you, hearing their knickers for food — they are such a pleasure to work with,” she says.

Thalia with her 'pride and joy,' Southwind Jenson

“I always look forward to stake season. I have always seemed to work with a lot of babies, so helping break them and seeing the time and effort finally make it to the goal (of making the races) is exciting,” she explained. “I am able to stay enthusiastic about harness racing through the new crops of babies each year. Each year those babies offer different challenges and I find myself always learning.”

Like many of her fellow caretakers, Thalia has a race on her bucket list she would like to win: that race is the Pepsi North America Cup. “Who wouldn’t love an Alberta-bred to make it to the North America Cup?” she states.

In order to check items off her bucket list, Thalia believes that success for a caretaker in the racing industry can be achieved through patience, perseverance and desire. “Good horsemanship is important in this industry and is displayed by caring unconditionally about your horse and never giving up,” says Thalia.

“It’s the most amazing feeling putting so much of your time and effort into making a horse sound and happy. Seeing them go behind the gate and giving their all, win or lose, it is rewarding just seeing them there.”

Thalia Martin getting No Mo Fo Joe ready to head to the track (photo courtesy Brinsley Brooking-Lutz)

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