by Dan Lauletta
Rene Araya, once among the top claiming trainers in New York, has retired to return to his former career as a jockey agent. Araya's new career begins again Feb. 19 when five-pound apprentice rider Catalino Martinez makes his American debut with two mounts at Aqueduct.
"I have a new life at 60," Araya said.
Araya's stable had slumped to the point that he won only 15 races between 2002 and 2003, and mounting financial considerations led him to abandon training after nearly 20 years. Among his best horses was Mckaymckenna, who he claimed in 1992 for $35,000 and trained to a trio of stakes wins the following year.
"It was tough to see the horses walk out of the barn," he said after his remaining stock was dispersed to other trainers at Belmont Park. "I loved my horses like my kids. They were like a second family to me. But I couldn't handle it financially anymore."
Martinez arrived in New York the week of Feb. 9 from Panama, where he won 49 races. He will start his domestic career by riding two horses for trainer Peter Kazamias. Araya said he expects to be able to secure more business for Martinez, but he declined to name any specific barns.
In Araya's previous career as a jocks' agent, he worked for such notable riders as Ron Franklin, who won the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) in 1979, though for a different agent than Araya.