Racing! Stronach v. Stronach bombshell


Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we try and add some perspective to the lawsuit everyone is talking about.

Wow. That sort of sums up the bombshell news of this week that Frank Stronach, 86, is suing his daughter Belinda Stronach, 52, to essentially wrest control of The Stronach Group from her and chief executive Alon Ossip.

We wrote about it for the print and online editions of the The Times. You can read it here. There is an even more detailed accounting of the suit from Bill Finley and T.D. Thornton of the Thoroughbred Daily News, who did a terrific job of breaking the story first. You can read it here.

These stories have most of the details, so I thought I would try and provide some perspective.

First of all, there really should be no immediate impact to any of the race tracks, including Santa Anita. Tim Ritvo, the chief operating officer of The Stronach Group, said as much and I don’t believe it to be spin. Ritvo is in a tough spot and, looking back at it, he has probably understood this for a while.

In all the conversations I’ve had with him through the past year-plus, he has always gone out of his way to say both “Frank and Belinda” in most every conversation about the company. In spreading praise and vision about the company they were a coupled entry.

When I briefly talked with him on Wednesday, he had no comment about the suit, calling it a family matter, but wanted to reassure everyone that it would be “business as usual” at Santa Anita and the other tracks. He also added that he has respect and love for both Frank and Belinda.

No doubt, we’ve all had friends who were a couple, then they separate or divorce. Our initial pledge is usually that we want to remain friends with both of them. But, what usually happens, is you eventually have to choose one over the other. Ritvo may have to make that choice, although it’s likely he will delay that as long as possible.

The last time I saw Frank and Belinda in the same space was in the Stronach chalet in the infield of Pimlico Race Course. It seemed odd at the time. I was there to get a rare extended interview with Belinda. She was the center of attention. There was one PR person assigned just to babysit me while I waited and two other PR people kept checking in with us to make sure things were OK.

But as I wandered around the massive temporary structure, I spotted Frank, sitting in a chair at a large table all by himself. No handlers, seemingly no friends. Here was the patriarch of the company looking lost in an environment he cultivated for decades.

Looking back, this might have been a snapshot into how Frank has felt recently. He was not the center of attention but a mere bystander. The suit more than hints at episodes of perceived disrespect and how he believed he was being ignored as Belinda executed her vision for the company.

Frank has spent a lot of his time recently trying to re-engineer how people view the food they eat. He’s the largest landowner in Marion County, Fla., which is where Ocala is located. He’s using some of that land to develop foods that are not bio-engineered and without all of the additives that we eat on a daily basis. It’s a passion of his and for the betterment of everyone. But, it doesn’t make money, it costs money.

Belinda has been focused on growing the gaming business, both on the track and setting a course to take advantage of sports betting that is coming throughout the country. The Stronach Group desperately needs to be a part of it. She has to deal with the situation in Baltimore and if the Preakness stays at decaying Pimlico or is moved up the road to Laurel Park. She sent Ritvo to Santa Anita to make this facility more profitable given the amount of land it eats up.

These are two very different tasks. And if you cut through all the rhetoric and charges, I’m guessing that it will come down to one central issue, if and when Frank turned over control of the company to Belinda. If it is her company then the edge is to Belinda. If it is his company then the edge is to Frank.

We’ll forget about this story in a few days. As Ritvo says, business as usual. But I’m going to look at the optics at the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream in January. Earlier this year, they were both on the post-race dais, Frank even going on a riff on how to fix the business. Belinda was talking about the success of the event and how it is staying at Gulfstream.

Will they both be on the dais this January? Will they both play roles in the event?

We’ll check back with you when we know.

Thanks to readers

I was blown away by all the positive emails I received after I reported being taken to woodshed by those who objected to me acknowledging Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Most heartfelt were three readers who were descendants of the people who were here before the Europeans. And many more emails from those who didn’t have a dog in the hunt but recognize that history can often rewrite itself. So, thanks for all the positive comments.

Santa Anita preview

Friday’s eight-race card is pretty weak quality wise but doing just fine quantity wise. First post is 1 p.m. The best race, or the biggest purse, is a $50,000 maiden special weight for fillies and mares 3 and up going six furlongs. It’s the fourth race at about 2:35 p.m.

The favorite is Amuse at 3-1. She has only won one race, a fourth at Del Mar but she has recent bullet works at three and four furlongs. Richard Mandella trains and Mike Smith will ride. There are two horses at 7-2. There is Tivat,who finished second in her only race at Del Mar. Dancing Bell is zero for seven and hasn’t run since a fourth place finish at Santa Anita on Jan. 25.

There are three turf races on the card.

Here are field sizes, in order: 10, 6, 10 (3 also eligible), 9, 9, 9, 8, 10 (2 AE).

Bob Ike’s SA play of the day

FIFTH RACE No. 5 Cool Green (5-1)

Sharp older gelding from the Keith Desormeaux stable comes off a fine runner-up try to similar $50,000 claimers last time at Del Mar, where he finished full of run and indicated that he should handle the nine furlong distance here. Plus, he's always done his best running over the Santa Anita lawn (3-for-7 record).

Monday’s result: Lord Guinness (16-1) ran big but couldn't hold off the Air Strike, finishing well clear of the third horse at a big price. Missed the win bet but hit the exacta box for $43.

Bob Ike is a Partner/VP of (here's a video) and the proprietor of (full-card picks, 3 Best Plays and betting strategy).

Los Alamitos weekend preview

This weekly segment is in the hands of Orlando Gutierrez, marketing and media maven at Los Al. So, the floor is yours, Orlando.

“The Grade 1, $125,000 Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Championship will be held Sunday night with a field that looks like the best group of quarter horses assembled for a race anywhere this year. The field will be one of the richest ever as the 10 horses have combined for gross earnings of $7,947,115, 25 Grade 1 victories and 107 total wins from 247 career starts. The Los Alamitos Championship is scheduled as the ninth race on Sunday.

“The field is highlighted by the past three winners of the Grade 1, $600,000 Champion of Champions in 2015 winner Heza Dasha Fire, 2016 winner Zoomin For Spuds and 2017 upset winner Mr Pyc To You. Heza Dasha Fire, the breed’s Horse of the Year in 2015, is also one of three millionaires in the field along with 2017 champion 3-year-old Hold Air Hostage and three-time Grade 1 winner He Looks Hot.

“’I love it,’ said trainer Monty Arrossa, who’ll saddle Zoomin For Spuds and Katies Easy Moves on Sunday. ‘This is one of the best races that I’ve ever been a part of and I love the competition. I’m honored just to have horses in this race.’

“The Los Alamitos Championship will be 440 yards and the winner will earn a berth to the Grade 1, $600,000 Champion of Champions to be held here on Dec. 15. For Heza Dasha Fire, the 6-year-old gelding is trying to qualify to the Champion of Champions for the fourth year in a row. In addition to winning the 2015 running, Heza Dasha Fire finished second in the race in both 2016 and 2017. He’s also $24,674 away from becoming quarter horse racing’s second all-time leading earner.

“The field from the rail out with earnings: Heza Dasha Fire ($2,217,987), BH Lisas Boy ($582,662), Mr Pyc To You ($476,170), Hold Air Hostage ($1,345,801), Katies Easy Moves ($113,658), Zoomin For Spuds ($657,441), Royaltys Authority (123,658), Tarzanito ($347,183), Bodacious Eagle ($968,836), and He Looks Hot ($1,1145,519).

Ronnie Brooks Keller’s Twisted Sifter will look to tie Country Boy 123 for the most wins in 2018 by a quarter horse in North America when he goes after his seventh victory of the year in the Chingaderos Handicap on Friday night. Twisted Sifter has done his winning at Los Alamitos, while Country Boy 123 has dominated racing at Ajax Downs, which is located east of Toronto. Ruth Barbour, who owns and trains Country Boy 123, will turn her attention to racing at Los Alamitos on Saturday night when Tac Me Up, who she co-owns with Colten and Wendy O’Dell, will headline the field to the $25,000 Autumn Handicap for 2-year-olds. Tac Me Up will going after his fourth win of the year.”

Ed Burgart’s LA play of the day

FOURTH RACE: No. 1 Tres Leche (3-1)

She is back with maidens after breaking one length slow in last PCQHRA Futurity trial fifth-place finish while competing in the trial where third-place finisher Cole Man 47 returned to win the futurity finals. She didn’t break alertly in fourth-place debut two outs ago when facing talented winner Estelline, who was fourth in last week’s PCQHRA Breeders Futurity. Trainer Jose Hernandez Jr. removes the blinkers and all systems are go in her third start.

Final thought

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Now, the star of the show, Friday’s entries.

Santa Anita Entries for Friday, October 12.

Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 9th day of a 22-day meet.


6 Furlongs. Purse: $30,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies. 2 year olds. Claiming Prices $50,000-$40,000. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1BooliciousStewart Elliott122Craig Anthony Lewis8-150,000
2Sassy KittyEvin Roman120Michael Machowsky6-140,000
3AlystarLuis Fuentes115Javier Jose Sierra20-150,000
4Tiz Your WayEdgar Payeras115Blake R. Heap20-140,000
5RolingaRuben Fuentes120Edward R. Freeman5-140,000
6All Tea All ShadeGary Stevens122Robert B. Hess, Jr.4-150,000
7AthleisureTyler Conner122Val Brinkerhoff8-150,000
8SuperhotamollyAssael Espinoza117J. Eric Kruljac7-250,000
9She's a DimeDrayden Van Dyke122Reed Saldana5-150,000
10Depende de TiAlonso Quinonez122Antonio Garcia10-150,000


6 Furlongs. Purse: $32,000. Starter Optional Claiming. 2 year olds. Claiming Price $40,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1The CreepEvin Roman120Doug F. O'Neill6-1
2Oracle of OmahaDrayden Van Dyke120Peter Miller8-5
3Irish TerrierTyler Baze120Steven Miyadi6-1
4Three Ay EmRafael Bejarano120Doug F. O'Neill8-1
5Give Me a HintGary Stevens117Robert B. Hess, Jr.2-1
6Bea's BoyGeovanni Franco120Steven Miyadi9-2


About 6½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $30,000. Maiden Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $50,000-$40,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Data CentralAssael Espinoza115J. Keith Desormeaux4-150,000
2AtonarunTyler Conner123Mike Puype12-150,000
3Rumpus CatEvin Roman120Ronald W. Ellis8-150,000
4Seahawk WaveJoseph Talamo120Mark Glatt4-150,000
5All I Can SayAlonso Quinonez123Val Brinkerhoff15-150,000
6BahamianMario Gutierrez120Simon Callaghan4-150,000
7Rak CityTiago Pereira123Brian J. Koriner20-150,000
8Kris' Wild KatRafael Bejarano120Richard Baltas8-150,000
9CapallDrayden Van Dyke118Peter Miller7-240,000
10Silver FuryGary Stevens120Blake R. Heap12-150,000
Also Eligible
11Henry CountyJoseph Talamo120Richard E. Mandella6-150,000
12June SixthTyler Conner121George Papaprodromou30-140,000
13Magnum MaduroVinnie Bednar120Keith E. Craigmyle30-150,000


6 Furlongs. Purse: $50,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1TivatGeovanni Franco120Carla Gaines7-2
2GlitznglamourStewart Elliott120John C. Ivory12-1
3GiveherdaluteDrayden Van Dyke120Bob Baffert5-1
4Creative ContessaTyler Baze120Mick Ruis6-1
5JohanssonSantiago Gonzalez120Scott Hansen12-1
6Dancing BelleAssael Espinoza115J. Keith Desormeaux7-2
7Sandona GirlMartin Pedroza120Art Sherman20-1
8See That KatRafael Bejarano120Richard Baltas8-1
9AmuseMike Smith120Richard E. Mandella3-1


1 1/8 Mile Turf. Purse: $40,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $50,000-$45,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1SaltiniGary Stevens123Richard E. Mandella8-150,000
2AckerRafael Bejarano121Peter Miller12-145,000
3Terrys Tom CatMario Gutierrez123Tim McCanna12-150,000
4Conquest TyphoonTyler Baze123Jack Carava3-150,000
5Cool GreenStewart Elliott123J. Keith Desormeaux5-150,000
6UnapologeticDrayden Van Dyke123William Spawr5-250,000
7TwentytwentyvisionAssael Espinoza118John W. Sadler6-150,000
8Hard FoughtEvin Roman123Robert B. Hess, Jr.20-150,000
9Oscar Dominguez Joseph Talamo123Peter Miller5-150,000


1 Mile. Purse: $22,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $12,500-$10,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1TenthousandreasonsJoseph Talamo121Craig Dollase12-112,500
2Revenue VirginiusGeovanni Franco121Jerry Hollendorfer5-112,500
3Princess LeiaTiago Pereira121Rafael Becerra12-112,500
4IprayStewart Elliott123Javier Jose Sierra4-112,500
5Lea's RewardAlonso Quinonez121Richard Baltas3-112,500
6Online RequestTyler Baze121Mark Glatt7-212,500
7Moscato GirlEvin Roman121Bill McLean8-112,500
8Honor MakerBrayan Pena121Kelly Castaneda15-112,500
9AtrevidaAssael Espinoza111Doug F. O'Neill6-110,500


6 Furlongs. Purse: $32,000. Starter Optional Claiming. Fillies. 2 year olds. Claiming Price $40,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Six Pack GalDrayden Van Dyke120Michael Machowsky4-1
2Time for SuzzieEdwin Maldonado122Jorge Periban8-140,000
3Pretty HussarTiago Pereira120Hector O. Palma10-1
4Zip's SecretAssael Espinoza115Vann Belvoir6-1
5Be Lifted UpTyler Baze120Jeff Mullins5-1
6Chitter ChatterJoseph Talamo120Brian J. Koriner8-1
7Secret ManeuverRafael Bejarano120J. Keith Desormeaux3-1
8Midnight MiracleGary Stevens120Robert B. Hess, Jr.7-2


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $32,000. Starter Allowance. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1FoxtailTyler Baze121John W. Sadler5-2
2Super PatriotDrayden Van Dyke118Bob Baffert3-1
3Sunday ProphetGeovanni Franco121Richard Baltas7-2
4Mongolian HumorBrice Blanc118Enebish Ganbat8-1
5ConformationMario Gutierrez118Ben D. A. Cecil20-1
6Trust Fund KittyAlonso Quinonez118Val Brinkerhoff10-1
7EzpzylemonsqueezyAssael Espinoza113Robert B. Hess, Jr.8-1
8Don'teatmycookiesSaul Arias118J. Keith Desormeaux10-1
9Summer Down NowTiago Pereira118Thomas Ray Bell, II30-1
10Take Charge GalLuis Fuentes111John W. Sadler15-1
Also Eligible
11Lil Bit DangerousTyler Conner121James M. Cassidy7-2
12November Tale Rafael Bejarano123Patrick Gallagher8-1
13ArrowsphereRafael Bejarano121Doug F. O'Neill12-1
14DemigoddessTiago Pereira121Charles R. Stutts30-1