Stronach, CHRB ready for pow wow

How Frank Stronach handles his appearance before the California Horse Racing Board today to talk about his vision for the future of racing in California could go a long way in determining his legacy in the sport.

If Stronach sold Santa Anita and got out of the game today, his legacy would be that of a failed race track operator. He talks about the sport being broken, but he is a major reason why the game is broken. Decisions like the one to terminate his lease with the Oak Tree Racing Association, which potentially cost Santa Anita a slew of upcoming Breeders’ Cups, are more the rule rather than the exception.

Stronach has gone on record as saying he feels tracks should be able to open and race any time they like without the interference of the CHRB doling out racing dates each year. I have a feeling if Stronach had his way, he’d operate Santa Anita much like Los Alamitos and run year-round. Of course, with shrinking purses and smaller field sizes, the question is how many horsemen and fans would attend?

If Stronach is smart, he won’t show up at Hollywood Park making demands and saying it’s his way or the highway. This is the time when he needs to sound a conciliatory tone and try to work with other racing officials. He should raise his concerns and give his ideas about how to fix things but avoid issuing ultimatums.

Which Stronach will appear at Hollywood Park? It’s anybody’s guess. We’re not even sure if he’ll reveal today what type of racing surface will be installed at Santa Anita in time for the 2010-11 meet. Oak Tree is still salvagable, but don’t count on that happening. Hollywood Park is likely to host the Oak Tree meet this fall.

Today’s meeting, with Stronach listed as No. 15 on a 17-item agenda, promises to be an interesting one. If you have an interest in the sport, you’ll want to tune in to the CHRB’s webcast, which begins at 9:30 a.m. You can find the link at

Have a seat and get comfortable. This meeting, originally scheduled for Thursday, was moved forward a few weeks ago to a non-racing day. Sound thinking there. Otherwise, the horses might be loading into the gate for the first race about the same time the meeting is really getting lively.

11 thoughts on “Stronach, CHRB ready for pow wow

  1. I predict a fiasco.

    Frank will piss off 80% to 90% of the room and leave town. Then the lawsuits start flying.

    I hope I’m wrong but his past performances say otherwise.

  2. I’m with Andrew. When you put a bull into a china shop, there’s only one thing that is going to happen next.

  3. Wellll, Stronach showed up. One person clapped when he was asked to approach the podium. What?? Seriously? That person to be on the payroll. Had to be. Must have been Dennis Mills.

    Bottom line is he answered NO questions about anything, you’ve never heard so much tap dancing and back-pedaling and statement spinning in your life. He just now (3:10pm CST) said that “He doesn’t want a tenant in his house” meaning he doesn’t want Oak Tree as a ‘renter’ at Santa Anita. Apparently a done deal. They (CHRB) asked the same thing I did a couple weeks ago, “How is it that you find it financially undesirable to let Oak Tree run but NOT financially desirable to HAVE a meet during that time?” and he cannot answer. His “I’ve stated clearly….” blah blah blah and yet, you’ve never heard so much mumbo jumbo. It is completely doomed. And I am soooo sad.

  4. OMG–hold all tickets! Mace Siegel might have just paved the way for Oak Tree to hold their meet this year ONLY — while they have a 5 man caucus to decide if they can do this in the next couple of minutes!! Jerry Jamgotchian just once again stood up and said something to the effect of “Frank Stronach just came in with the white hat and totally outsmarted the CHRB while the CHRB tries to meddle in private business yadda yadda yadda….”

    This is unreal. I I’m quite sure board meetings are usually a big groaner, but this one was a MUST ATTEND and I’m so glad I brought my laptop to listen to this last 3 hours! UN-BE-LIEVABLE!

  5. I was part of the standing room only circus that was the CHRB meeting. It was hard to listen to two grown successful businessmen argue without listening to each other. At the end of that exercise, California racing is no better off today than it was yesterday.

  6. Greg,

    I’ll take it one farther…California racing is “worse” off after today. That meeting was a travesty. Full in inconsitent stories from the moment Frank made his appearance. Have to think the entire incident with Mace Siegal was staged. When he appears and says “I am sure if you (Oak Tree) would ask Frank if you could race one more year he would say yes” Frank then says Yes, after explaining for an hour + that his board have already decided no more tenants at SA. Whole think was a joke. Wonder what a respectable guy like Jerry Moss thinks driving out of there after sitting thought that.

  7. What do you expect from a SLUM LORD like Stronach? he pretty much single handidly has tried to DESTROY horse racing in North America.. My gosh he did over here in Ohio with ThistleDown thank goodness the track has been sold to someone who will hopefully bring it back or tear it down..Hell tearing it down wont be so bad the way Stronach left it. PLEASE just leave already Frank!!!! you are NO GOOD FOR THE SPORT OF KINGS!!!!

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