01/28/2005 12:00AM

At Adena, it's small details on a grand scale

Frank Stronach accepts his fifth Eclipse Award, this one in the name of Adena Springs.

Frank Stronach does things on a colossal scale. His Magna International is among the world's largest manufacturers of car parts, and his Magna Entertainment owns 12 racetracks from coast to coast plus another, Magna Racino, in Stronach's native Austria.

His Adena Springs operation, winner of the 2004 Eclipse Award as leading breeder, is also vast. Adena has divisions in Canada, Kentucky, and Florida and is home to about 400 Stronach broodmares and 15 stallions, most notably Awesome Again, sire of the 2004 Horse of the Year, Ghostzapper, and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner, Wilko.

Thanks to Ghostzapper and Stronach's army of other homebreds, Adena Springs topped all breeders by earnings last year with $14,265,528.

Stronach made it sound simple when he picked up his statuette - his second as breeder and fifth overall - at the Eclipse Award dinner last Monday in Beverly Hills.

"We buy a lot of horses and they multiply," he said. "I think we breed a good horse."

But the operation is about more than size, says manager Dan Hall.

"You have to have numbers, but you also have to be open-minded and flexible, you have to have a lot of luck, and you have to adapt," Hall said. "We're driven to be adaptable by our leader. Frank Stronach is a visionary, and he's always trying to think of ways to do better."

That means sweating the small stuff, Stronach said.

"You have to acquire good bloodlines and good racing records, and most of all you have to give them a good environment," he said. "You have to have healthy barns. I don't like metal roofs, for example, because I don't think they have as good air circulation. You have to pay attention to little details like that."

Stronach's homebreeding program cares less for sale-ring fashion than racetrack results.

"Fortunately enough, I do not rely on selling, as such," Stronach said. "We sell some as a way of supporting our stallions, but first and foremost in my mind is to produce a good racehorse."

Hall emphasized that point. "Frank remains committed to those horses and gives them full books, regardless of what the public support for them might be," Hall said. "A major part of the breeding philosophy is to outcross a lot. That's how we've ended up with Alphabet Soup, Running Stag, and, to some extent, Macho Uno, who is a homebred by Holy Bull.

"Fortunately," Hall added, "Frank has put a lot into the game financially, and we do have a lot of numbers. We're not always going to produce a Ghostzapper, because he is truly a special, special horse, and we may never get another one like that. But we are always looking for ways to do things even better."

Stronach, 72, previously won as leading owner in 1998 and 1999, and in 2000 he won Eclipse Awards as both leading owner and leading breeder. The 2004 Eclipse Award is the first he has won in the name of his Adena Springs operation.

Adena Springs