NASSAU COUNTY, NY (The New York Post) – A Belmont Park stable hand was fatally stabbed by her former boyfriend as she was walking a horse at the famed Nassau County racetrack early Sunday, authorities said.
The worker — identified by police sources as Maria Larin — was cooling down racehorse Our American Star following a workout around 6:30 a.m. when former flame José Franco-Martinez ran up to her in a barn and allegedly knifed her multiple times, according to law-enforcement sources.
The spooked horse took off at a gallop, alerting Belmont security that something was wrong.
“Security became alarmed because the horse became free at that point,” said Detective Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick, head of the Nassau County Homicide Squad. “So when they came responding to see what happened to the horse . . . they discovered [Larin] with multiple stab wounds.”
Franco-Martinez was nabbed outside the barn by a group of stable hands and a New York Racing Association guard, who held him until cops arrived, according to authorities.
“We’ve come to determine that this is not a random act,” Fitzpatrick said. “This is a targeted incident.”
Track security gave Larin first aid and emergency responders rushed her to an area hospital, but she could not be saved.
“We are in mourning,” said Lolita Shivmangal, daughter of and assistant to trainer Doodnauth Shivmangal.
Larin, 51, worked for Shivmangal as a hot walker, cooling down horses after workouts.
“[Larin] was a great human being and she didn’t deserve what happened to her,” Shivmangal said.
Cops are working to determine how Franco-Martinez made it onto the premises.
Franco-Martinez, 53, initially entered the country with Larin, before bouncing between the United States and El Salvador, according to horse-racing news outlet Daily Racing Form.
Authorities said he had previously worked at the racetrack, which last Sunday played host to Justify’s historic Triple Crown-clinching run.
Our American Star, unharmed in the attack, went on to take place in Belmont’s first race of the day.
Franco-Martinez — for whom cops couldn’t immediately confirm an address — was charged with second-degree murder.
He’s slated to be arraigned Monday at First District Court in Hempstead.
Neither the New York State Gaming Commission nor the New York Racing Association, which operates Belmont Park, returned requests for comment.