Mark Martinez, founder of the M2 Technology company, became involved in Thoroughbred racing around 2005. In recent years, he has focused on partnerships through his Agave Racing Stable.
Notable horses include: Street Fancy, winner of the Grade 1 Starlet Stakes in 2015; Fault, this year's G3 Pucker Up winner and Ransom the Moon, who this month earned a trip to the Breeders' Cup by winning the G1 Bing Crosby at Del Mar.
We have five questions for Martinez.
Who was the first horse you ever owned?
The first horse I purchased was a yearling colt named Goodwillambassador. I purchased 15% with a syndicate in California owned and operated by the Feld brothers and Dave Carman. I've always had a passion for Thoroughbred racing but didn't really know the best way to enter the game. Frankly, I didn't have the money back then either!
Here I am 15 years later and grateful that I took the syndicate route and was able to be mentored into the game by some very experienced and honest horsemen. I'm convinced if I had made my way to the backside of my local track, I would have been out of the game years ago. Make no mistake about it, this is one tough and competitive game and wading into the pool is a whole lot safer than diving into the deep end with the sharks!
To bring things full circle, I recently purchased a horse in partnership with The Club which is managed by the next generation of Felds. And as far as Goodwillambassador is concerned, I have a 2-year-old Midnight Lute colt that is carrying the name of my first purchase and is currently in training with Phil D'Amato.
How did M2 come about?
When I retired from the Air Force, I went to work in the IT industry with a federal contractor as an account manager. After a few years of “dragging a bag” in sales, I decided to start my own IT firm back in 2000. It was initially going to be named Precise Technology, but that name was taken so I had to come up with something quick. I had worked for a general whose initials were BB and he signed everything B2 so I figured that would be good enough for me too. So there you have it – M2 was formed.
What do you love most about horse racing?
This one is simple – the challenge! I remember back in the day when the Wide World of Sports opened with a video clip and a voice over that characterized sports as “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat”. They weren't specifically describing horse racing, but having played sports for the better part of my life, there is no other sport that I've played that offers the thrill of victory quite like winning a horse race. I'll never be in a position to own my own NFL or NBA team, but horse racing gives me the opportunity to have my own sports franchise. It comes complete with scouts, coaching staff, team doctors, uniforms/team logo and most importantly – athletes.
What is the main reason you co-own with others?
I started with a syndicate about 15 years ago and after a couple of years things evolved into a 50/50 partnership with Lucas Downs and I eventually moved to owning 100% of all of my horses. After a few years of “grinding it out”, I decided to go back to the future. It was time for me to find partners that I shared a common objective with so I could buy more and better horses.
I've had the good fortune of teaming up with some great partners like Hebert Bloodstock, Queen Bee Racing, JAAM Racing, Little Red Feather Racing and I've even had the opportunity to partner with Sam-Son Farm out of Canada. Partnerships have always served as an avenue for the novice or smaller player to participate in racing, but now we see an industry trend of the “Big Guns” teaming up to share the cost, share the risk and share the upside. I see this trend continuing and I think this will benefit both the breeders and buyers as top bred horses will bring higher prices as buyers will be more inclined to step out since their cost and risk is reduced.
For Agave, I'm hoping this trend helps to create value at the price range I like to shop. One last thought about partners: I have made some tremendous friendships since I started taking on partners and it just makes the game that much more exciting to have someone or a group of people to share it with!
If you were horse racing commissioner for a day, what one change would you make?
We might be a little overdistributed which has led to diluting the quality of the product. I'm not talking about media coverage, I'm talking about simultaneous tracks competing with each other for horses and handle in their region. I can't help but wonder what racing would look like in California if Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields didn't run over the top of each other.
Looking in my own backyard here in the South Central region, we had Lone Star Park, Louisiana Downs and Evangeline Downs all running at the same time. Unfortunately, there aren't enough quality horses in this region to support three tracks. The strength and future of our sport might come from a philosophy of less is more and let the strong survive.
I can't tell you how many times I have brought new people to the races and to a person they always have a great time! But will they go back to the races on their own? Usually not. I do believe things like racing clubs through crowd funding like Little Red Feather and others certainly help to bring new people into the game. But how do we leverage this into even greater and broader participation? That's the million dollar question and there are people much better positioned than me to be the Commissioner for a Day to solve that mystery.
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