MI Developments chairman Frank Stronach

MI Developments chairman Frank Stronach

Anne M. Eberhardt

Stronach Wants Meeting With Maryland Horsemen

Frank Stronach wants to sit down with Maryland horsemen, he said in a letter.

MI Developments chairman Frank Stronach has offered to meet with Maryland horsemen in the wake of a Maryland Racing Commission meeting at which MID and partner Penn National Gaming Inc. were criticized and called a “dysfunctional” ownership group.

Stronach’s letter was e-mailed to media outlets Feb. 15. It recounts some of what occurred during the Dec. 21, 2010, MRC meeting at which no racing dates for 2011 were awarded. The parties hammered out a last-minute deal a day later for 146 racing days.

Stronach said he tried to be constructive in addressing “critical challenges facing our industry.” He said the current model in Maryland is “broken,” and if it’s not changed, “horse racing in Maryland will disappear, or be on a substandard level, and many jobs will be lost.”

The letter was sent to horsemen, breeders, and the MRC.

The MID chairman in the letter singled out Alan Foreman, counsel for the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. Stronach said Foreman’s comments were discouraging.

“In my career, I have had to deal with his kind of confrontational approach on numerous occasions, and I have never found it productive,” Stronach said. “I believe that if there are to be solutions they will be found in a cordial and constructive exchange of ideas between the horsemen and the racetracks.

“Not only did Mr. Foreman make a number of statements that we can demonstrate to be inaccurate, he appeared to me to wish to foster the type of confrontational environment that may reward attorneys but doesn’t, in my view, advance matters. He did not make a single statement during the hearing suggesting that we sit down and try and solve the obvious problems or even acknowledge that the continual drain of money for racetracks is not sustainable.”

When contacted Feb. 15 Foreman said he did his job representing the interests of horsemen. He didn’t say if there would be a meeting with Stronach.

“I have no apologies to make to anybody,” Foreman said. “My record speaks for itself.”

“I still wish to believe in Maryland horse racing, and I still believe if the stakeholders sit down, we could come up with solutions to make this business one of great enjoyment for people that own and love horses, and I am one of them,” Stronach said. “I hope my offer will be taken up.”

As part of a 2011 dates deal that came about after intervention from Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, the stakeholders pledged to devise a plan for racing going forward.