Stronach To Explore Breeding In California, Maryland; Puts Paris, Ky., Farm On Market

by | 10.04.2017 | 4:20pm
Adena Springs (Paris) Kentucky Stallion Complex

Frank Stronach and the members of the Stronach family announced today their further commitment to the race horse industry.

The family's investment in the industry is over $1 billion, and they own some of the greatest race tracks in the industry, including: Santa Anita, Gulfstream Park, Pimlico, Laurel Park, Golden Gate, Rosecroft and Portland Meadows.

The family also owns and maintains extensive breeding farms in Canada, Florida and Kentucky. Frank Stronach explained that he is exploring the possibility of having breeding farms in California and Maryland in support of his racetracks. As a result, Stronach will reduce the number of mares in Kentucky and the farm in Paris, Ky., will be put up for sale.

Stronach still believes Kentucky is a great place to race horses and will maintain the farm in Midway, Ky. He would like to acknowledge the wonderful and experienced staff running the Paris farm. Most of them will have the opportunity to move to the Midway farm in Kentucky.

Whoever might buy the farm in Paris, Ky., would most likely like to have qualified and experienced horse people running the farm.

For more on the Stronach announcement, click here.

  • Always Curious

    WOW!

  • Monrovia Damon

    Looks good for CA racing on the surface. We’ll see how it plays out

  • Julie L.

    He should bring some really good stallions to stand in California I hope.

    • Shasta Sam

      You could bring Tapit, War Front, Pioneer of the Nile or anyone else you can think of and it wouldn’t make much difference. Without the MARES to support them (which are all in KY), they would be failures.

      • Gls

        Northern Dancer, Native Dancer, Halo, Kings Bishop! If you build it they will come.

      • Julie L.

        If you have the better stallions then logic dictates that the better mares will come into California as well. I don’t think Stronach will have cheap mares here if his aim is to improve our breeding industry here.

        • Shasta Sam

          Unfortunately, the last thing that applies to the thoroughbred business is logic. While, in theory, you are correct. However, in practice, the problem is that KY mares will never move to CA in any numbers when so many great breeding choices exist in KY. History has shown that when KY sires move to CA, they always fail and their stats, literally, fall of a cliff. This is because the quality of CA mares is, with rare exceptions, very weak. Even when solid CA mares happen to prove their credentials by throwing a top runner (ex. Love the Chase dam of CA Chrome), they immediately go to KY to be bred to top sires (she was bred to Tapit). Stronach can bring out one or two top stallions but without bringing lots of mares to support them, the mare population in CA is not good enough to consistently produce top runners, even when bred to those good studs.

  • John woodward

    I’m sorry,what has he done for Ca? It seems that he owns the only tracks in California and there’s nothing but discord at both.

    • michelle

      What has he done for Maryland ? Did not even apply for slots and the improvements he is making are mandated from the slot money

  • Tat Yakutis

    I’ve been waiting for this announcement. Finger’s crossed for my home state of CA.

    • Meydan Rocks

      Crossed BIG TIME!!!

  • I think we’ve just heard the sound of the first shoe dropping.

    • Hamish

      I’m afraid you are right.

    • Nayrod

      I’m in total shock!

    • greg

      ???

    • MR.DR.

      yea….the sky is falling……everyone is cheating……blah blah………….go find a sport you like that is clean…….

    • David Worley

      Please say more Barry.

    • Flag Is Up

      Exactly!

    • David Juffet

      He’s out of control Barry.

    • Tango F

      I think this is a move that might have better been considered about 25 years ago …

  • Nayrod

    Shocking but then again, his money is gold and that would improve the NE. Too bad it didn’t help Florida.

  • greg

    He never does anything that isn’t a direct benefit ti him first, him second, everyone else third. He MAY consider Maryland as he can be a huge fish in a medium size pond, in Calif. never never going to happen, the land is too expensive, the horse population is dropping, we all know how racing in Calif. is going. Consider also, last time he was going to “support” So Cal racing he sent 36 horses there, gave 6 to 6 different trainers, sold “shares” that would have all money won split between the 6 partners. I spoke to 3-4 of those trainers all said they horses cannot run or compete, of the 36 I think there was 1 winner and he was required to fold up the partnerships (I think by the SEC actually, but that may be incorrect) and he practically gave them all away, none ran after that. In Calif. he’d be a smaller fish in an evaporating pond.

    • Minneola

      California is too valuable for the entire sport of racing to allow it to evaporate. If it disappears, so will the sport in the rest of the country. Furthermore, while the land along the coast is extremely expensive, there are vast amounts of acreage in the valleys that run down the center of the entire length of the state. That is where a number of breeding farms are already located and doing well enough.

      • greg

        If I had a magic wand (some have said I do) I would have a training center built somewhere between Pasadena and San Diego just like they have in Japan, 3 tracks, dirt, turf, synthetic, would stable up to 3500 horses, and here’s the kicker: Owners would be billed a certain amount per day, that goes to THE FACILITY for upkeep, expenses, etc. BEFORE anyone says owners won’t pay, consider the following:
        1. It’s much better for the horses (we KNOW this)
        2. no games, each horse has a saddle towel with a chip for each horse, times are monitored by the facility
        3. It would be kept up and you can chose the surface (maybe the turf is undulating, like Europe)
        4. Much safer for horses, and riders
        5. Race tracks would only need enough stables to hold that days runners and a receiving barn, the stables at SA are a fire and safety hazard.
        There is no doubt the cost to build could be covered by raising funds via a LLC or LP with funds from owners and the tracks, remember the tracks now don’t have the huge expense of maintaining a stable area and would be owned by the participants in the LLC or LP. I know racing is resistant to change, even as simple as post time changes, however I see no downside to this for the horses, owners, racing in Calif. There is land available in that are well off the coast that is vacant and already has horses there. Now I will put my magic wand away and wait for everyone to tell me why this won’t work. BTW, ~2-3 years ago I asked approx. 25 owners, some with 2 horses some with 20 and everyone said “if the cost was manageable and I could save $$ on vet bills and lost training, I’m in”

        • We all want this and have for decades, but where is the money going to come from? I wish the major tracks would sell their valuable land for its reali estate value and divert a good chunk of the funds into building a state of the art training and racing facility in the middle of nowhere and make racing a television event. Horsemen can live out there and what live racing fans we have left can drive out to watch the races. That is the best chance for survival of the animals and the humans.

          • Shasta Sam

            The only way anything like that could even remotely work is based on the original old Longacres/Emerald Downs model. It would require a major developer to agree to buy out Santa Anita (and probably throw in Golden Gate) with complete development plans in place (entitlements would probably take 3-5+ years in CA). As part of the acquisition, the developer would agree to buy the land and build a state of the art racing/simulcast facility in Central CA. Conceptually, it might work. Practically, probably not.

          • The problem is that we all let the game diminish to a point where it would be difficult to show how any investor could recoup his investment. In order for this to work, the State governments would have to come in and help out in some fashion, not with a handout per se, but perhaps with loans or a bond issue, which could be justified by the number of jobs it would save and/or create. But the appetite among governors and legislators to help racing is at low ebb, because a) states do not make the revenue from taxation that they used to from our game and b) they are mostly owned by casino interests. We let this happen. It is our fault.

          • Minneola

            It’s not always that easy to sell property along the coastline of California. A couple of years ago, I spoke with someone in mgmt at GGF and expressed my concern and amazement that their property had not been sold and developed for other things. It sits on some super prime land and I could not venture a guess at how many millions or more that land is worth. His answer to me? Hard to get approval for such a development and there are a lot of people opposed to that. Developers know that and if they were to buy that property, it would sit for decades waiting for any approval for development.

        • Minneola

          Wow. That was a lot for me to read and contemplate. I do like the idea of having a separate facility for boarding race horses as well as giving them a separate track for training. 3500 horses in one location, however, does give me some pause in that I am not one to “put all of my eggs into one basket” because of risks. What risks? Natural risks (earthquakes, weather, fires, etc.) as well as risks of transmitting possible diseases between horses in such a concentrated location. But, as you state, there is land available at a much more reasonable price if one goes inland by 1 to 2 hours from the coastline. That could lower overhead for tracks that are along the coast, which is expensive real estate.

          For Santa Anita (for example), could they sell off a small section of their land that might not be needed or, possibly, lease out that space? One thing that has always perplexed me is the business model for tracks;
          they seem to single-minded toward racing, but to gain additional
          revenue, it would seem that they could aim to use their venue more
          efficiently and, if space allows for it, to broaden their appeal for
          other products and services. For example, since racing usually draws more of a weekend crowd, could the track lease out some space for other businesses (such as legal or financial) that operate on weekdays but are closed on weekends? They’ve tried entertainment on weekends after the races but those are a bit too hit-and-miss and with some uncertainty.

          • greg

            Santa Anita is very limited in what they are able to do because the city of Arcadia is extremely difficult. SA has an extra parking lot behind the backstretch of the track, large enough to build houses or retail, city says no, they could probably sell/lease the area where the stables are now, however the way it’s configured would be difficult. The natural risks you mention are valid, however where I’m thinking is all dirt and low hills, earthquakes have never done any damage there, solid base, fire, always a concern, there are always negatives, but to accomplish the goal of more horses running and being sounder, this works

      • Hamish

        Stronach still controls the 257 acres in Dixon, CA, originally acquired by his Magna company to build a racetrack. A plan to develop it into mixed high tech space and residential has recently been unveiled. Maybe there is a chance, if the aforementioned plans do not come together, that the land could be used for horse farm purposes? Don’t really know if the ground is appropriate for raising horses or if there are any other horse facilities nearby.

        • Minneola

          Did not know that! Dixon is in a great location. Is, somewhat, mid-point (a one-hour drive) between the East Bay and the Sacramento Valley, both of which are thriving economically. And, it is a very short distance (10 miles) from UC Davis and its equine veterinary school. The land is not cheap since it is part of the Sacramento – San Francisco corridor but, compared to most of the Bay Area, the land is far, far more affordable. I don’t know about the soil in Dixon but it may vary depending on the exact location or, perhaps, the soil can be amended for particular purposes. The weather, however, during summer can get to be quite warm — or, even, hot. GGF, on the other hand, seldom has temps over the 70s — except for this past summer when it hit 100 on one or two days!

          • Hamish

            At one point I think they were growing tomatoes there.

          • Minneola

            Tomatoes are still grown in Dixon and throughout the Sacramento Valley as well as those counties south of it. In fact, Sacramento is sometimes called Sacratomato. So, the soil is exceptionally great for agriculture in that whole region. The region prides itself as the Farm-to-Fork capital of the country and food festivals are continuously run.

          • Monrovia Damon

            There has also been some scuttlebutt about rehabbing Pomona Fairplex into a large scale equine facility. With Hollywood Park gone and Los Al likely next, having a stabling and training facility (and even run races) 10 miles down the road from Santa Anita would be huge. Barretts can hold auctions at their sales pavilion. Team up with Cal Poly Pomona as a working research facility for their equine/agri programs and it could be special.

            Makes a lot of sense in the grand scheme of the sport. I know Santa Anita execs are spearheading the project and are serious about it. I’d love to see it happen.

          • Minneola

            Sounds like a very logical and reasoned location. I often wonder how many stalls are being used at Santa Anita for horses that haven’t raced in quite some time. Also, does Fairplex still have their track? If so, I would bet that it is sitting there unused and would be a great training location. Cal Poly Pomona does have a lot of human assets in their ag department that could partner with Santa Anita. Of course, I am a bit biased since my first degree was from its sister school in San Luis Obispo.

          • Monrovia Damon

            A large chunk of stalls at Santa Anita are taken up by horses that don’t run frequently enough for whatever reason (injury, can’t find race, etc.), which was OK when Hollywood Park was around but it’s becoming an issue now for the population. Pomona as it stands now has enough stable space for 500 horses I want to say, maybe more. The track and grandstand are still intact as well, and there’s talk about extending the oval to a mile. So at the bare minimum, the essentials are already in place. With planning and funding, this location is a damn gold mine. If we ever get the green light, it will send positive signals that CA racing is here to stay.

            Side note: I nearly went to Cal Poly SLO years ago but opted for New Orleans instead! Had a blast, but always wondered if I could take that decision back and become a trainer, vet, or whatever. Oh well can’t dwell on it :)

          • ofmyownaccord

            As a Cal Pomona alum, I can tell you that Michael Ortiz gutted the Ag program at CPP while he was President of the school….like he gutted Agriculture at the LA County Fair while he was President of the board.

            They just tore up a bunch of pastures to put in new dorms…..

  • concernedflbreeder

    Please sell Gulfstream Park to someone with a love of the sport and a vision for the future.

    Sincerely,

    concernedflbreeder

  • Cheap Speed

    Looks like a smart man selling a large farm at an opportune time.

  • Minneola

    Don’t know how this is going to work out but I will have to admit that Mr. Stronach is a smart guy with a lot of experience in racing, and, because of that, I am not going to pick apart his decision. I’d rather just wish him good luck.

  • Meydan Rocks

    I am in awe of this man. Coming to North America from Austria with nothing but dreams and building a billion dollar auto parts business from zero. I’m going to wait till the bitter end in hopes that this next phase pans out for him. He has brought a lot of us great joy via his equine investments. I wish him well.

  • Jerry

    FRANK IS SMARTER THAN MOST. THIS IS HIS PLAY TO ELIMINATE THE TOC/CHRB.
    WITHOUT HORSES – SANTA ANITA WILL EXPAND THE MALL AND BUILD CONDOS!

  • Melton

    Great things are going to happen for the State of California racing industry. They have acquired farms and recently sent 70 yearlings there to get ready for race careers.

  • Kathryn R Wilt

    The phrase ‘increasing commitment to the racing industry’ while announcing a reduction in Kentucky breeding operations and California obligations sounds crafted to confuse. I agree with Barry that TV race coverage may eclipse the ‘experience’ (see Nascar), yet Stronach invented the Peg for both and then syndicated the event cost (same as his partnerships).Has he settled his “Derby Wars” lawsuit. Trying to see the strategy.

  • Jack Frazier

    What I wonder is why he took so long? He’s been a presence since the 1990’s and so now he wants to help the breeding program. It may be too little too late to infuse any life into the breeding business in California as the majority of big breeding outfits are gone: Mira Loma, Vessels and some are just squeaking by. Many years ago he came to San Luis Rey after he bought it from Vessels and promised everything but the kitchen sink. Nothing was done to help the horsemen there until Los Al began the insurance program Los Al SIG. Don’t hold your breath.

  • David Burris

    Makes sense. He owns tracks in both Maryland and California.

  • Hamish

    No statements from Stronach executives: Belinda Stronach, Mike Rogers or Alon Ossip? Wonder if Frank is back driving decisions after ceding control of the company to family last year? Whatever the case, horse racing’s sustainable future in the U.S. requires Frank’s interest.

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