Posted: Jan. 3, 2018
Through his extraordinary success in racing, breeding, racetrack ownership and support of retired racehorse programs, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Jan. 2 announced that Frank Stronach will receive the Eclipse Award of Merit for a lifetime of outstanding achievement in service to the Thoroughbred industry.
Stronach will receive the Award of Merit at the 47th Eclipse Awards dinner and ceremony Jan. 25 at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla. The Eclipse Awards are presented by Daily Racing Form, Breeders’ Cup and The Stronach Group, and produced by the NTRA.
Over the course of his prodigious career, marked by boldness and innovation, Stronach moved swiftly to become a major racetrack operator and paralleled those business acquisitions with his prowess as an owner and breeder to become the most decorated individual in Eclipse Awards history, winning 12 championship trophies.
“I am flattered and touched to be recognized with the prestigious Eclipse Award of Merit,” Stronach said. “Horses and racing have been my passion, my labor of love, since I was a boy. It has been an honor to be part of this great sport and help in creating world-class races, facilities and training centers with our friends, partners and co-workers.
“What’s most important, however, has been working and being around the incredible horses. I want to share this award with all of those who have contributed to all our success.”
Stronach made his name in the auto parts business. Born in 1932, Stronach emigrated from his native Austria to Canada as a 21-year-old with $200 in his pocket, and started a one-man tool and die shop in a rented garage, sleeping at night next to a lathe. Working in the Toronto manufacturing district, Stronach steadily built his Multimatic company, with a series of mergers and acquisitions, into Magna International Inc., and by 1998 he developed it into one of the world’s largest and most diversified suppliers of automotive components with annual sales of more than $30 billion and over 120,000 employees in close to 30 countries.
Stronach developed a great love and passion for horses and Thoroughbred racing. He purchased his first Thoroughbred in 1962 and later teamed with Nelson Bunker Hunt to campaign the talented filly Glorious Song to the 1980 Sovereign Award as Canada’s Horse of the Year.
Stronach established Adena Springs near Versailles, Ky., in 1989 and made it into a breeding powerhouse. Stronach owns and operates Adena Springs Farm, with locations in Kentucky, Florida and Canada. In 2017, he announced his intention to develop a division of Adena Springs in California.
Stronach saw an opportunity to expand his passion for the Thoroughbred into racetrack property acquisition and began to acquire racetracks under the Magna Entertainment brand on a grand scale.
He bought Santa Anita Park near Los Angeles late in 1998, followed by the acquisition of Gulfstream Park in South Florida and Golden Gate Fields in California the following year. The purchase of the Maryland Jockey Club tracks of Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course in Maryland and Lone Star Park in Texas followed in 2002.
Through a reorganization in 2007, the tracks are owned under the name of The Stronach Group, with Frank Stronach as its Founder and Chairman. His daughter, Belinda, now serves as Chairman and President of the company.
Laurel has been the recipient of about $30 million in renovations in recent years, and pari-mutuel handle on the live product continued to increase in 2017 to about $500 million.
In 2017, Stronach and his team created the world’s richest horse race, the $12 million Pegasus World Cup, where slots in 12 starting gate positions were be sold for $1 million eacj to individual ownership groups. The second Pegasus World Cup, which will be held Jan. 27, will be worth $16 million.