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Founder of group that owns Pimlico wants Preakness deal changed as he tries to force daughter out as president

Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in Horse Racing

BALTIMORE -- Canadian billionaire Frank Stronach said Wednesday he believes the deal to keep the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore should be amended ? and he pledged to continue trying to force out his daughter as president of the international horse racing company he founded.

"I would like to point out very strongly, that Belinda does not speak for the Stronach family," wrote Frank Stronach in an email to The Baltimore Sun. "At this time there is litigation because Belinda's father, her brother, her mother strongly disagree with Belinda's actions and behaviour."

The city of Baltimore and the Stronach Group, the owners of the historic but dilapidated Pimlico, said Friday they had come up with a way to keep the Preakness at the 149-year-old Northwest Baltimore track.

Under the terms of the $375 million deal, roughly $200 million would be used to rebuild Pimlico Race Course, which The Stronach Group would give to the city and lease back for the Preakness. A new clubhouse would be built and the track rotated to create parcels of land that the city could sell for private development. Training and stable operations would move south to Laurel Park in Anne Arundel County, which would undergo a roughly $175 million renovation.

But several key elements remain unresolved before the vision can be made a reality.

The parties have not yet drafted legislation needed to fund the bonds that would be sold to cover the cost, but they plan to do so before the next General Assembly session starts in January. The bill is expected to be complex and is tentatively dubbed the "Racing and Community Development Act of 2020."

 

In an interview, Frank Stronach, 87, said he doesn't necessarily have an issue with the deal his daughter, Stronach Group President Belinda Stronach, 53, cut with the city of Baltimore to keep the second leg of the Triple Crown at Pimlico in Park Heights. But he doesn't like that he wasn't consulted, believes his daughter is an illegitimate company president and wants the agreement to do much more for the Park Heights community.

"She is not the rightful owner," Frank Stronach said. "I've been kept out of the loop. We would need a commitment from the state. We would need to have an urban farm, food processing plants, greenhouses. Money will not fix the poverty, only meaningful jobs."

Frank and Belinda Stronach have been embroiled in lawsuits since last year when he sued her in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, alleging she was diverting funds meant for projects like his grass-fed cattle farm to support her extravagant lifestyle. His initial complaint sought $520 million Canadian -- about $390 million in U.S. dollars -- and asked to have his daughter, who also serves as the Stronach Group's chairman, removed from the company.

In response, Belinda Stronach alleged Frank Stronach blew $850 million on failed "passion projects" over the years, including spending hundreds of millions on agriculture, thoroughbred horse operations, golf courses and two 12-story bronze statues of a Pegasus horse defeating a dragon.

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