Frank Stronach is the chairman of Magna Entertainment Corp., a major racetrack operator that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection March 5. He also is the owner of Adena Springs, which won its fifth consecutive Eclipse Award as outstanding breeder in 2008 while Stronach picked up his fourth Eclipse as outstanding owner.
Stronach discussed the MEC bankruptcy with The Blood-Horse following the Adena Springs sale of 2-year-olds in training March 16 at Adena Springs South in Williston, Fla.
The Blood-Horse: Can you give us any insight into the Magna bankruptcy?
Stronach: “The horse community really has got to get together. There are so many flaws in the thing. We’ve got to correct it or otherwise racing will have a hard time.”
Do you think you will remain in the Thoroughbred business as a racetrack operator, or would you like eventually to get out of that part of the industry entirely?
“I will (continue as a racetrack operator); I’m quite sure. Keep in mind I am also the controlling shareholder (of Magna Entertainment Corp.). A few tracks might be sold; a few we keep.”
Why do you want to continue as a racetrack operator?
“I still hope I can convince the racing community that we’ve got to get together. We all are in the same boat. As you know, I have proposed numerous times a horseracing charter of rights, where, basically I say to the horsemen, ‘You must allow me to make the most money I can.’ Of course, when I say that, it’s always within the legal framework. The horseracing charter would be that I would split 50-50 with the horsemen. That’s because we are in the same boat as the horsemen. The tracks that put on the show, they get very little.”
What can you say to the people who are worried about the bankruptcy and how it will affect the Thoroughbred industry?
“What I would say to them is the horseracing community has got to get together because it hasn’t been a good business. I think I’m reasonably intelligent. Look, unless it is free enterprise, it won’t work. Basically, what I am saying is that we must be allowed to open up our store when we think we can get the most customers. And we must be allowed to sell and buy products on a commercial basis (based on) what we think our customers would like. We can’t do that now. It doesn’t make sense.”
When you look back, is there anything you wish you would have done differently with MEC?
“You always would do a few things a little differently. Some of our guys should have been a little more disciplined, because normally I have no debt. My other companies have got lots of cash.”
Will this bankruptcy affect your Adena Springs breeding and racing operation and your other business ventures?
“No. I’m the controlling shareholder of Magna International (a supplier of automotive products). We’ve got no debt. We’ve got $1.2 billion cash in the bank. It’s all separate. That’s all separate.”
What do you think will happen with MEC over the next few months?
“I think things will go on. We’ll run, and if somebody comes up and bids a high number, we’re open to it. We’re open to selling if the price is right. We're open to partnerships. I think people are slowly starting to realize that my heart is in the right place, and that I like to have some good input into racing.”
Are there any tracks you like better than the others MEC owns and would like to keep the most?
"Well, I do (have favorites), but I won’t say it publicly now.”