Jaskulski: Stronach forgot some important 'key stakeholders'

April 22, 2019 05:04pm

There’s something in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times that doesn’t sit well with me, and it’s not the backdoor cover the Clippers made against the Warriors.

Chances are, if you're reading this, it shouldn't sit well with you, either.

Frank Stronach, the billionaire founder of The Stronach Group, took out a full page ad in California’s largest newspaper titled, “An Open Letter from Frank Stronach to All Horse Lovers in the State of California.”

The five-paragraph message concludes with Stronach announcing that he will speak at the Embassy Suites Arcadia Hotel at 6 p.m. PT Tuesday about racing’s future in the state.

A figurehead of the industry willing to address racing’s issues? Excellent. And to do so with the public? Great.

But there’s one problem. In listing horse racing’s “key stakeholders” for which he’s hoping to create a brighter future, Stronach left out an important group: You. Me. Us.

Much of the letter, simply put, is self praise — a reminder of Stronach’s rags-to-riches story and creation of his business empire.
 It truly is a great tale of achievement, overcoming the odds and creating jobs for the working class. But it really has nothing to do with the state of the industry with Santa Anita Park — owned by Stronach Group — at the center of the crisis.

This ad was not placed in conjunction with The Stronach Group, now run by Frank’s daughter, Belinda, who he’s currently forging a legal battle against regarding handling of the company. But it’s no coincidence as to when and where Frank Stronach made his announcement.

Within it, he states that “the key stakeholders within the horse racing industry are – the racetrack owners, horse owners, trainers, jockeys, breeders and veterinarians.”

I checked everywhere. Not one mention of the horseplayers or the fans that make the sport tick. Veterinarians are stakeholders, but not the bettors or the fans? Without them — without us — there simply is no horse racing. Horseplayers and fans supply this industry with the fuel it needs to carry on, and Stronach should have acknowledged that.

He could have taken a note from Dirk Nowitzki, the recently retired Dallas Mavericks star who published his own full page ad in Sunday’s Dallas Morning Star — not applaud himself, but to thank the fans and the city. Nothing more. Just a tip of the cap to those who helped make his rich, lucrative and illustrious career possible.   

I understand the point of Stronach’s letter is awareness of his Tuesday appearance. But why take out a full-page ad in the largest newspaper in California to do it if you’re going to show no appreciation or gratitude to the majority of those who are reading it? Again, that’s you and me. Us.

With Santa Anita Park and many other top racetracks pursuing bans on the race day medication Lasix, a number of horseplayers have voiced concerns. And what about shrinking field sizes and stewards’ rulings and takeout rates?

There was an opportunity to include bettors, but Stronach took a very public pass. In the spirit of the social media campaign of the same name, remember that you and me — we — are horse racing, even if Stronach didn’t.

Anthony Jaskulski is assistant editor of Horse Racing Nation.


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