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"Jumping The Counter"

If you spend any time around the race track the first thing you will notice is the slangs and incorrect English we use on a regular basis. If someone asks a trainer "How'd you run in the 5th?", if he finished 1st you probably would hear him answer "we win it". If you ask a jocks agent how his jockey did in a particular race and hefinished up the track you would probably hear him say "he run bad".

Another slang-term used on the race track is "jumping the counter". That refers to a racing official that is working in the Racing Secretary's office and has decided to become a jockey's agent. Case in point, Jon Anthony Martin. Anthony, as he is known in the game, did it recently and when he jumped the counter he ran right over the competition.

If there ever was anyone bred to be a racetracker, I assure you, Anthony Martin was. His dad, Tony Martin, has been on the track for a long time and is one of the top jocks agents on the Louisiana circuit. His mom, Wendy, works for Equibase and is based at Evangeline Downs. Twenty one years ago here comes young Anthony Martin.

At a very young age it was amazing how much Anthony knew about racing. He was like a human sponge when it came to racing and race horse knowledge. He could tell you who won races that were run before he was born. He was reading the Racing Form and making educated handicapping decisions before he could read The Cat In The Hat. He was wise beyond his years, so believe me, his career path was predetermined while he was still in a crib.

Fast forward to 2008 when Anthony gets his first job in the racing office. Jason Boulet was hired to fill the Racing Secretary's job and the first person he hired was Anthony to be his assistant. In that position, Anthony got to know a number of horsemen from around the country. He was beginning to lay the groundwork for the "jump".

During last year's Fair Grounds meet it was announced at nearby Evangeline Downs that a new Racing Secretary was hired for their 2009 season. Veteran horseman Coleman Lloyd was selected for the job and who does he hire for his new assistant, you guessed it, Anthony Martin. You would think Anthony was set with year-round employment at two Louisiana tracks. Wrong.

During the early part of the Evangeline meet Anthony's cell phone rings and veteran race rider Robby Albarado is on the other end. He informs Anthony that he needs an agent for the next few months because his agent, Lenny Pike, has to take a leave of absence to take care of some personal issues. This isn't a permanent job, but going to work for a jock of Robby's caliber can open a lot of doors. "This is a shot to not only jump the counter, but jump over the building. I wanted to do this, but I had to do it the right way. I talked with Coleman and because of his experiences as an agent, he knew this was a no-brainer. I gotta go for this and he gives me his blessing."

The next couple of months were like going from high school baseball to the MLB and Anthony hit a home run. The Albarado-Martin team picked right up where Robby and Lenny left off, winning races in bunches, which included stakes like the Grade I $750,000 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs.

Anthony was dealing with the elite of the training world and he was handling them like an old pro.

As the end of his part-time association with Robby was approaching, Anthony was trying to figure out what was next. He came back to Lafayette and it didn't take long for things to happen. "My cell phone rang again and this time it was Shane Sellers. Shane, who had retired a few years ago, was working towards a comeback and needed an agent. We teamed-up, started off on the right foot by winning races at the end of the Evangeline Downs meeting and things are clicking here at the Fair Grounds."

Over the last couple of years Anthony has developed a strong friendship and working relationship with trainer Steve Asmussen and that has helped his young career prosper. "Steve has helped Shane's return and my job as his agent tremendously by putting us on live horses that are winning. When you can be associated with Steve and the type of horses he has, that is a huge plus for anybody."

Youth is a wonderful thing - that's another slang that applies here. Anthony Martin is part of the future of racing and he'll be around for long time.