05/19/2017 5:30PM

Belinda Stronach expresses optimism for racing industry in speech

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WASHINGTON – Belinda Stronach, who was elevated by her father, Frank Stronach, to chairman and president of The Stronach Group last year, said she is “really optimistic” about the future of both the company and the racing industry during a keynote address delivered at the end of the Pan Am Conference held on Thursday and Friday.

Stronach, a former legislator in Canada and former chief executive of the auto-parts company her father founded, said she has repositioned management at The Stronach Group to “view our company now, first and foremost, as an entertainment company,” which she said would help the company’s racetrack compete with other entertainment options.

“What we have at the core is super exciting; the potential is vast,” she said.

Stronach did not offer many specifics in her speech, but she said the company is working on a technology project that would provide a “broad funnel” to new racing fans that would be launched in the next 12 months. She said the project revolved around the “gamification” of betting on horse racing, in reference to video gaming.

Approximately half of the presentation was devoted to replaying the promotional commercials the company produced starring the mixed martial-arts star Conor McGregor and the comedian Jon Lovitz for the inaugural Pegasus World Cup, a $12 million race run at The Stronach Group’s Gulfstream Park earlier this year. Stronach said during her presentation that the spots produced 12 million “views” on social media. She said producing the spots was part of the company’s strategy to appeal to younger demographics.

“We’re trying some new things, and we’re taking some risks,” Stronach said.

In addition to Gulfstream, The Stronach Group owns Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields in California and Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course in Maryland. The company, which was formed from assets that Frank Stronach bought out of the bankruptcy of a publicly traded racing company he founded, also operates the former Calder Race Course in Miami under a lease and owns a number of other racing assets, such as an account-wagering company and a bet-processing company.

The Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown, is being held at Pimlico on Saturday, which made Belinda Stronach a natural choice to deliver the keynote address. She has kept a low profile among the racing press since being installed to the top position of the company.