Marie Krantz, Fair Grounds Chairman, Dies

Marie G. Krantz, chairman of the board of Fair Grounds Race Course for the past 13 years, died early Saturday after a long illness. She was 67.

Krantz, who spent 45 years as part of the Thoroughbred racing industry in New Orleans, was among the first lady racing executives in the United States. Her racetrack experience began in 1958 at Jefferson Downs, working in admissions, administration and eventually becoming administrative assistant for track owner John G. Masoni in 1963.

After Hurricane Betsy destroyed the track in 1965, Krantz was the only employee retained. When the "new" Jefferson Downs was set for construction, Krantz assumed duties of construction manager, and upon its opening in 1971, Krantz was named assistant general manager. The next year, she was promoted to general manager.

Krantz quickly gained the respect of racing industry leaders in Louisiana. Throughout the next two decades, Krantz oversaw the development and growth of the business of the Kenner oval. Krantz and son Bryan purchased the track in 1986 from Masoni. Under Krantz's direction, Jefferson Downs successfully sought passage of and then introduced off-track betting in the late 1980s.

Krantz purchased controlling interest in Fair Grounds in April 1990, and upon completion of the purchase, she was named chairman of the board. Krantz authorized the plan to bring Fair Grounds back from the December 1993 fire, pledged personal assets to ensure financing for rebuilding, and presided over the ribbon cutting of the new facility in 1997.

Krantz also was a horse owner and breeder. Her best horse was the mare Victoria Lass, who captured the Pan Zareta Stakes in 1967.

Krantz will be inducted posthumously into Fair Grounds' Racing Hall of Fame on Mar. 8. That night, she will also be the first recipient of the Marie G. Krantz Fair Grounds Lifetime Achievement Award, for individuals who have contributed substantially to the Thoroughbred industry in Louisiana over the course of their lifetime.

Visitation will be Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home, 5100 Pontchartrain Blvd. in New Orleans. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the American Cancer Society.