Martha Kathleen GONZALEZ

1962 - 2020

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Obituary of Martha Kathleen GONZALEZ

Martha Kathleen Gonzalez (Douglas) 58 Race horse trainer, wife, mother, grandmother, friend and wine drinker. Born in Marville, France to Jack & Dorothy Douglas, Martha died in Toronto on October 4th, 2020, after a 2-year fight with colon, liver and lung cancer. Martha’s life was marked with love. Her sweetheart was her husband Nick, her joy was her son Nicholas and little grandson Nicky. Her life-long love were her “babies” – the many horses that charted her life’s course and made her the wonderful, nurturing and strong person that she was. When Martha was just a teenager, she talked her parents into getting her a tan-coloured jumping horse that she called “Foolish Pleasure”, because she knew that this was an extravagant expenditure for her school-teaching mother and postal working father. But that horse created the foundation for Martha’s life. She learned a strong work ethic cleaning stables to cover boarding costs and she spent every waking hour, learning about horses and how to jump them. Later she would go to college to study equestrian. It was there that she realized that she was less a jumper and more a thoroughbred horse racing person. She left school to turn a childhood love of horses into a very successful training career working the backstretch at racing facilities throughout the United States and in Toronto and Fort Erie, Canada. When one of her favourite babies, a horse called “Parnitha”, was claimed by this up-and-coming trainer Nick Gonzalez, Martha insisted she be given visiting rights. A love for this horse turned into a devoted, loving partnership between Nick and Martha that would span more than 35 years. Working 7 days a week, the two of them made their mark on Canadian Thoroughbred Racing chalking up 2 Queen’s Plate wins, over 1,500 wins and another 2,500 place and show finishings in her life time career. They trained a 2-year-old Canadian Champion “Wholelotofbourbon” in 2004 and in 2010, won their first Queen’s Plate with “Big Red Mike” in the presence of Queen Elizabeth herself. Three years later, they were back at the Queen’s Plate with “Midnight Aria”, who defeated the favoured “Up With the Birds” by half a length, to secure their second Queen’s Plate win. When a 15-year member of their racing family – exercise rider Darren Fortune, was killed in a training accident in 2017, Martha was heartbroken. She helped raise funds to support his family and then did what was natural – name a Kentucky yearling with a lot of promise “Darren's Fortune”. One of Martha’s greatest joys was naming her babies. She had a story for each name and always had a giggle when she told it. Early on, every horse name needed some reference to drinking alcohol. Later she entered her country and western phase where she would take lines from her favourite songs and work them into a name. Martha’s latest baby, “Silent Poet” won a stake race just days before her passing. She knew she was failing and lamented that she would never see him live up to his full potential. Martha is survived by her husband Nick Gonzalez, adult son Nicholas, grandson Nicky, big sister and brother Mary Costello and John Douglas and three beloved nieces Meghan, Sophia and Rachel. But her family was not confined simply to relatives. It extended to the close-knit Thoroughbred Racing world in Canada and in the United States. Her home was the racetrack and every character there was a loving and important part of her life. Some of her best memories came from her “travelling racetrack sisters”, Lori, Vicky, Julia and closest friend Wendy McLaren, who was by her side every step of the way for the past two years, until the end. We all watched as our beautiful Martha lost her hair and over 80 pounds, but never her determination. Throughout treatment she always looked for the positive, for the good things and set little milestones. We watched as she refused to allow cancer to define her - instead her love, her friendships and her horses did that. Martha will be missed greatly by the horse racing community, fans and friends that she had made throughout her career. In lieu of flowers, donations in Martha’s memory to “CARD” (A program to improve the lives of children and adults with disabilities thorough therapeutic riding programs), would be greatly appreciated. Online Condolences can be made at In Memoriam Funeral Services Inc. has been given the honour to serve the Gonzalez Family.