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The Reins of Transition of The Breeder’s Dream

Belinda Stronach

By Dennis Mills, Racingfuture.com...In a relay race, the passing of the baton is a pivotal moment where, in a nanosecond, the point of transition leaves all who watch breathless until the act is successfully completed and a sense of calm and wonder takes hold of all who pay testimony to it. Hope and trust are born of tireless hours of practice, dedication and sacrifice. Such is the exchange one witnesses through the extraordinary Stronach family as one of Canada’s most recognized entrepreneurs, Mr. Frank Stronach, celebrates this with his distinguished daughter, Belinda.
 
Eminently worthy of her own accolades, Belinda Caroline Stronach, PC (Privy Council) is a philanthropist and decidedly successful Canadian businesswoman. Born in Newmarket, Ontario, her parents are Elfriede Sallmutter and Frank Stronach who founded Magna International in Aurora, Ontario in 1957. Belinda served as a member of the board of directors of Magna from 1988 until 2004 and became executive vice-president of Magna in 1999. Following her appointment as President and Chief Executive Officer in 2001, the company added some 3,000 jobs in Canada and enjoyed record sales and profits in subsequent years. 
 
She was a Member of Parliament in the Canadian House of Commons from 2004 to 2008. From May 17, 2005 to February 6, 2006, she was the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and the Minister responsible for Democratic Renewal. After leaving politics, she served as the executive vice-chairman of Magna International until December 31, 2010. 
 
For most of her life Belinda has lived on a thoroughbred horse farm where she listened attentively and interacted with the everyday work on the farm. She lived every aspect of their pedigree, from the cleaning of stalls, to the selling of yearlings. This experience led to her family's Queen’s Plate and the Breeders’ Cup victories. 
 
Until now, she has always lived in the shadow of Frank, whose influence has marked every step of her way. The shadow now becomes the light of hope for a new generation, as she takes the reins at the helm of her Ghostzapper and jockey Javier Castellano with owners Frank and Frieda Stronach entering the winner's circle after racing to victory in the 2004 Breeder's Cup Classic family’s business in the sport of horse racing. Her passion for its survival permeates her being and she knows the weight of its responsibility. Belinda is profoundly aware that she is the custodian of the world-class North American race tracks including Santa Anita Park, “The Great Race Place”, Pimilco Race Course, home of the legendary Preakness, and the spectacular Gulfstream Park, one of Florida’s newest entertainment destinations. In addition, the Stronach Group is a leading producer and distributor of televised horse racing programming and is one of the world’s leading thoroughbred race horse breeders, having produced numerous champions.
 
As one enters Gulfstream Park, one is awestruck by Pegasus. In Greek mythology Pegasus is the immortal winged horse which symbolizes wisdom and in battle it was the good force that triumphed over evil. Its forceful presence can be seen as the focal point of the Park as it’s the world’s largest horse sculpture and indeed one of the earth’s biggest bronze statues ever forged.
 
Like thoroughbred horses themselves who owe their amazing resilience to their ancestry, Belinda takes up the torch of the sport from a man who has broken new ground in it and made an indelible mark upon it wherever he’s led the charge. “To every time there is a Season …” and this is, with certainty, Belinda’s occasion to shine. As head of the Stronach Group, she will have this opportunity at the Gulfstream Park’s future events and Santa Anita Park, California where the Breeders’ Cup will be held in the first week of November this year. Belinda has been groomed for this by one of the best business minds in the world and she’s ready to step up to the plate. 
 
In her own words Belinda says, “We view this company as an entertainment company first and foremost, with horse racing and wagering as our key assets. Our passion is to expand the sport of horse racing and to deliver amazing entertainment experiences, both on and off track. We think Pegasus World Cup Invitational is a game-changing catalyst in our efforts to modernize this sport and to engage a whole new generation of fans”.
 
Belinda represents the best hope for the next phase of renewal of this tremendous sport and intuitively comprehends the significance of racing’s embrace of the ever growing dynamics of telecommunications. She knows this is the path to the future viability and success of the tracks. Her father’s business acumen, upon which the company was built, will serve her well as she helps advance the industry into its exciting future potential.
 
Frank Stronach with his son, Andy Like her, Belinda’s brother, Andy, is constantly researching new and unique forms of gaming opportunities that will inspire younger people to become a part of the horse racing experience. This will prove to be another great link in the support chain in new forms of horse racing.
 
I have had the pleasure of being a friend and business associate of Frank’s for almost forty years. Throughout that time, I have been a witness to the journey and renewal of Magna International - a company that employed over 120,000 people in 23 Countries over time - and I’ve seen close-up his involvement in various sectors of the economy from auto parts to real estate and horse racing. I have especially enjoyed being an eyewitness to Frank’s dedication and leadership in the whole area of organic agriculture, a field of significant importance in our world today.
 
Now I am witnessing the passing of the baton to his daughter Belinda, a woman whose commitment is reassuring to the tens of thousands of men and women who depend upon the sustainability of this Industry. These people and their families will be looking anxiously to the leadership decisions that Belinda will be making. Though challenges will be inevitable, she has arrived at that place where her aspirations enjoy the comfort of knowing that a secure footing has been laid by her father.
 
When describing the complexity and stamina of the horse, perhaps the words of the Pulitzer Prize winning American novelist, Jane Smiley, said it best: “I have discovered that the horse is life itself, a metaphor but also an example of life’s mystery and unpredictability; of life’s generosity and beauty, a worthy object of repeated and ever changing contemplation”. The pinnacle of this beauty, this stamina is exemplified in the race horse!
 
I envisage Belinda leading the sport to new and braver heights as will be witnessed by the $12 Million Pegasus World Cup Race at Gulfstream Park which NBC will cover on January 28, 2017. Belinda’s vision of making the Race Tracks a total recreation experience will provide a venue for her own mark on the overall industry.Pegasus at Gulfstream Park
 
I also predict that her public service experience of sustaining and growing jobs will prove to be an added benefit to the horse racing business generally, as this background will help bring people from all race tracks together.
 
In modernizing the Tracks, they will become a blend of leading-edge technology, entertainment and fine dining experiences - a complete celebratory package.
 
Currently Belinda Stronach is the President and Chairperson of The Stronach Group and Chair of Acasta Capital. She is also the founder and Chair of The Belinda Stronach Foundation, a Canadian charitable organization. 
 
Related Links
 
 
 
Dennis Mills
Racingfuture.com

Comments

Great article Dennis!

By Henri

I like Ms. Stronach's style. She and her children seemed to have a great time at this year's Preakness. We here in Baltimore have high hopes that she will see the potential of Pimlico,a Triple Crown Track and America's second oldest race track.

By April

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