Stronach Interview--Part 3

The business numbers at your tracks were down, specifically Santa Anita and Gulfstream.
They have been down everywhere.

Keeneland just showed a healthy increase in on-track attendance...
That's just a very short meet, a special thing. That's not a good comparison. If we fail to create excitement at our tracks, then the industry will be hurting. We can't neglect live racing. If we do the industry will have a problem. You see the same old faces at the tracks today. The percentage of young people is minimal. That means we haven't been doing things right.

A farm like Claiborne gives three-quarters of a million dollars to the NTRA through stallion nominations. A lot of people are paying voluntarily to support the organization. If changes you want are made, will your farm, Adena Springs, pay the same as the other farms?
If the principles are right. I'd be very happy to support it. But saying I turned my back on the breeders, that I'm in some 'unholy alliance' with the 22 tracks, that those are the bad guys just because they are different, that's the message that got across, and that's totally wrong.

I have strong views, I'm entitled to my views. I pay my bills. I try to be constructive. I don't try to call anybody names. Let me be alone. I expressed on numerous occasions what my concerns are. If there is no reaction to that, I'll say they don't want to do it. What do you expect me to do? But all of a sudden, I'm the bad guy? I invested more money than anyone else in this game.

I don't have to prove anything. I'm No. 1 in owning horses, in breeding; my auto parts company is No. 1. I put my mind into things and I excel. It's only when people try and put roadblocks in my way. I wish I had gotten the permits at Santa Anita. We would already have an entertainment center there.

You've heard the expression "my way or the highway?"
Of course I have. I don't have that approach.

Are you willing to compromise?
If you're willing to be in an association you must compromise. But the board must not be appointed and it must be elected.

Your reputation, perhaps starting with your fight with the Ontario Jockey Club, is that you don't compromise.
When I was asked to be on the OJC board, I said, clearly, that I would be on the board, but we must have elections. The board of trustees must be elected. That took over two years. There was absolutely no progress. Finally I said I don't want to be part of it. There was no attempt. My way or the highway is the wrong impression. I believe the horsemen respect me and they look at me and say I'm independent and I speak for them. I don't want to be part of an organization that is fundamentally flawed.

Would you run for the board?
I have a big stake. If I am on the board, if I sit down with my guys and say this is what we could do. It doesn't really make any difference. I would be willing to give time.

The NTRA has changed its rules, but they haven't gotten feedback from you directly. You haven't offered a specific proposal to them.
Look, it's very simple for them to say, 'Yes we are committed to free enterprise.' 'Yes, we are willing to sit down and talk about how to apply democratic principles.' What's so magic about it? Then I will sit down, but there's been nothing forthcoming and it's been more than a year.

Why should they listen to you?
They don't have to. I don't have to talk to them, either. I could say leave me alone. I don't need them. I can do my own thing. I'm not asking them for anything.

I'm not asking why MUST they, but why SHOULD they?
Because I think I've been very successful. I've demonstrated that what I do is very transparent. It's based on sound principles. I'm the only company in the world with a corporate constitution. There's no games played. My principles are very clear. We must provide the customer with a better environment that is enjoyable for racing, and we must put money into racetracks. If you don't do that, then this industry will have great problems. There is no money being put into racetracks, into dorms, nothing. It's disgraceful. I've put in more money than anyone -- over $500 million.