06/20/2010 3:00PM

Frank Goes to Hollywood


On the morning of Tuesday, June 22, in a very large room at Hollywood Park, Frank Stronach is scheduled to appear before the California Horse Racing Board. The anticipation for this appearance tremendous. Think Hannah Montana and Justin Bieber on a double bill, if your'e a 13-year-old girl.

Frank-Stronach Stronach is buried deep on the agenda -- 15th of 17 items -- but that's the way it should be. You don't run the first race and then go right to the Travers. So intense is the interest in this particular board meeting that the CHRB has come up with the money to resume its live web audiocast, which had been discontinued for lack of funds. The webcast can be found at www.chrb.ca.gov, but chances are it won't be easy listening.

What will Stronach say, and how will he say it? Speculation has been running rampant. Even those who consider themselves blessed with insight have only a fleeting idea what he will propose as a solution to the challenges faced by the Stronach-led MI Developments, which has taken control of Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields from the now defunct, Stronach-led Magna Entertainment. Given the choice, a racetrack would rather be owned by an entertainment company than a real estate company, but that ship sailed a long time ago.

In the past, Stronach has maintained that racing in California is broken, and that the racing calendar needs to be thrown open to the "free market" so that any racetrack can operate any time they see fit, and let the weak fall by the wayside. Undoubtedly, he will offer a variation on this theme at Tuesday's session. At the same time, the manner in which he presents his plan will go a long way toward determining how it will be received. Here are some approaches from which he could choose:

Stronach could aspire to be an inspirational, lofty leader of his fellow California horsemen (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qff098NCNDE), or... 

He could play the steel-eyed prince of high stakes corporate finance, throwing fastballs high and inside (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7upG01-XWbY), or... 

Stronach could simply let his actions speak louder than any words, as personalities of great influence have done in the past (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9JYq-mXprw).

There have been hysterical cries that Frank Stronach is holding California racing hostage. This makes no sense. The idea that one man, backed by the power of an international corporation based in Canada, can determine the fate of the entire industry is prepostrous. Of course, who could have imagined that the environmental health and economic welfare of the gulf coast of the United States could be threatened by the actions of -- and dependence upon -- a single oil company?

To this point, Stronach's investment in California's racing business has been considerable, and he certainly has a right to protect that investment. But his investment, no matter how large, did not buy the right to run roughshod over the other principal players, as MI Developments has done in their handling of the Oak Tree Racing Association. Stronach has a chance on Tuesday to close fresh wounds and step up as a leader among equals in a business that requires cool heads and smart compromise. Or not. 

blackseabass More than 1 year ago
Sidetrack, Al Capone had a good buisness aptitude do you want to champion him?
Zinn21 More than 1 year ago
Well I guess California racing got what it didn't pay for. There was a golden opportunity to buy Santa Anita in bankruptcy and no one stepped up to outbid FS. Now we are stuck with the all time luckiest idiot to build a fortune allowing him to create one Racing train wreck after another in history...
Top Turf Teddy More than 1 year ago
Sorry Jay, but Mr. Stronach is correct; the lawmakers have ruined this game, going back to the New York City Off Track Betting Corporation, which started it all when the NYRA was king of the hill. Perhaps you may recall how they restrained trade back then. You could not bet on a California race until the last race in New York had been run, and other such nonesense. Well, now, the chickens have come home to roost. These lawmakers ruined New York racing, and I'm all for a great racing venue, and if Frank Stronach creates one, I don't care where it is, I'm behind him. Let's change the slogan of racing to "Go Frankie Go." Sincerely, Top Turf Teddy
mike More than 1 year ago
Sidetrack, You are co-mingling his auto empire with his racing empire. In racing, he does not have a clue, which is stronly confirmed by Magna's financial demise.
JT More than 1 year ago
Ahhh Frank, what is your ulterior motive? The destruction of racing altogether? Beating everyone down until you own the entire industry; and all that happens happens only with YOUR approval? That seems to be the general direction we are headed. But, there is a field leveling fact that no one, not even you, can run away from.......you Frank, are an old man......and unless you have made a pact with the devil, time for you, as for us all, will run out. For the sake of your eternal soul, let's hope you have time to get right; and for the sake of racing, before you ruin it completely, let's hope it is soon. You are a scary, powerful individual with an agenda. Lighten up Frank; contrary to your belief, you are not the king.
PJ More than 1 year ago
It's quite simple. When Frank Stronach opens his mouth, he's lying. "The business model is broken" is "The business model is broken...for me." Whatever his corporation is called now might be hemorrhaging less money than before, but he just wants to line his pockets with more good money he can throw after bad. That's why he throws up smoke screens, like that nonsense bet idea of his, and that "new" plastic track replace that "old" plastic track. He wants California racing to be all about him. It's up to the CHRB to tell him to take a long walk off a short pier. Not that they would ever do such a thing, since such a thing requires courage. But it's nice to dream. Racing may be hurting, but it's not hurting enough that the dinosaurs of the sport need to continually roar and threaten and bluster just to get their way, as if they knew what to do with it once they ever get it. I'm glad Oak Tree is staying at Santa Anita for the year. But I'd be excited to hear about how well an Oak Tree can grow at ol' Del Mar. That might be rejuvenation enough.
Seabass More than 1 year ago
Stronach and his croonies have been a part of destroying horse racing in Maryland. Magna was incompetent what makes us feel that MI won't be the same?
robertSD More than 1 year ago
There is no doubt in my mind that if Frank Stronach continues to be involved in California racing that it will not only continue in it's current decline but the end will arrive far faster than if he were not involved. When asked for a specific idea on how to save racing in our state Stronach said, "A quadruple quadfecta. Four races with a quadfecta" -- sure Frank another gimmicky bet will save racing. I wished we had more power to save Santa Anita but short of hitting a quarter billion dollar lottery I can't imagine being able to pry it away from him -- and even then I'm sure he'd fight it. - robertSD
Paul Adams More than 1 year ago
If I was Oak Tree I would have rather run a special Oak Tree at Ferndale before stooping to what has transpired the last month and today. Embarassing.
Pete M More than 1 year ago
Listened in on the meeting today on the Webcast, I was not there so can't comment on the scene at Hollywood. But it all sounded almost comical at times. The alleged "board meeting" where Magna decided there would be no Oak Tree ("tenants) going forward. This "meeting" and its decision was held while Oak Tree still thought there was negotiations about running in 2010. Then when pressed if it was a formal board meeting, it became "informal?" Whatever that means, I took it that Frank decided it himself. After an hour of Frank explaining why there would be no more tenants at Oak Tree, Mace Siegel appears and tells Oak Tree if you would just ask Frank if you could run he would say yes!! Of Course Frank then says YES you can run (this year). What about consulting with his board, which just last week said there were not going to run at Oak Tree anymore. I had the feeling that CA racing was in trouble before listening to this today, no I have no doubt that dire times are ahead.