Leading rider titles at such diverse locations as Minnesota's Canterbury Park, Washington's Emerald Downs and Arizona's Turf Paradise are in his past, but at 32 years old, jockey Seth Martinez will be hanging his tack full-time at Arlington for only the second time in his career.
"Actually, I didn't even get to complete the season here (at Arlington) last summer, because I broke my hand toward the end of the meet and was out of action for about eight weeks," Martinez said. "But I still was able to finish seventh in the standings, so all-in-all I thought I had a pretty good summer considering I was fairly new to the Chicago circuit.
"I've been pretty fortunate throughout my whole career as far as riding on circuits that were cool places to live," Martinez explained, "but when (father and son trainers) Mac and Hugh (Robertson) asked me to come here for the summer, I was thought it would be a great opportunity for me. So far, it's been working out great."
Through Wednesday's eighth day of Arlington's 90-day 2012 session, Martinez was tied for second in the standings with defending jockey champion James Graham and local newcomers Channing Hill, Rosemary Homeister Jr. and apprentice Alex Canchari. The last named was scheduled to leave for the East Coast during the coming weekend.
Chicago-raised Francisco Torres had gotten off to the quickest start and was leading the local standings with 10 wins through Wednesday.
"This summer, in addition to the Robertson stable, I've got business in quite a few barns here and there," Martinez remarked. "It adds up. I feel like I've been given plenty of opportunities. The whole jockey colony here is a very good one, and nobody seems to have a lock on all the bigger barns, so everyone's business is pretty well spread out. I have no idea right now how high I might finish this summer, so I'll just keep on working as hard as I can and take it as far as it goes. I try to learn something new everyday, and I try to pick up bits and pieces from everyone."
Based on his family, Martinez almost seemed destined to become a jockey.
"My real father (Beau Cisneros) had a brief career as a jockey but he broke his back when he was first starting out," he said. "He's fine now, but that ended his riding career and now he lives back home in Raton, New Mexico, where I was born.
"My stepdad (Dickie Martinez) rode for 16 years, and when I first started riding, I starting using the name Martinez for record-keeping purposes because my real name (Seth Beau Cisneros) was too long.
"So my Mom and my Stepdad were married for a several years and had kids of their own, and my real Dad remarried and had other kids after he and my mother got divorced. But get this. My Mom and Stepdad got divorced after a few years, and my real Dad and his second wife got divorced after a few years. Now here's the best part. Lately, my Mom and real Dad are getting back together, and that's after more than 20 years apart. I think that's just great. In fact, I think it's really cool."
One thing about Martinez's riding style that has impressed the local horsemen who have taken the time to notice is that he's not shy about going between horses when there is room.
"That's true," Martinez stated. "I never even think about it. The way I look at it, if the horse wants to get through, he'll get through. It makes it more exciting for me to go through there, and probably the trainer as well -- now that I think about it."