Magna Entertainment announced that it defaulted on a PNC Bank loan tied to Pimlico and Laurel. Barring some kind of new arrangement or accommodation, the company will be unable to make a $275 million repayment to MI Developments on March 20; and it faces a Wednesday deadline for a $40 million repayment to a Canadian bank. The company is scrambling to save its slots prospects in Maryland (a point which may soon be moot anyway). As Steve Zorn reports on his Business of Racing blog, Magna has lost three directors, thus falling into non-compliance with the Toronto Stock Exchange, and is in similar straits on NASDAQ. Perhaps most ominously of all, parent company Magna International reported a loss of $148 million, prompting shareholders of that company to express concern over the prospect of its extending a lifeline to the Magna racing and real estate companies.
So, what is Frank Stronach up to amidst all this turmoil? Well, for one thing, he spent time composing a letter to the editor, published in today's edition of Thoroughbred Daily News, on the timely subject of THE ECLIPSE AWARDS: TIME FOR A NEW SYSTEM OF SELECTING WINNERS. (It's free, but PDF only and registration required.) Though not concerning the Eclipse Awards that people actually care about.
Since the announcement of the 2008 Eclipse Awards several weeks ago, there has been public controversy surrounding the selection of Outstanding Owner. A number of owners and sports writers have questioned the validity or fairness of the results--but few have stopped to question the actual process used to determine the annual winners of the Eclipse Award.(Wait a minute. Didn't Frank win this award?)
I believe the Eclipse Awards need to be based on a points system with a clear-cut formula. Points would be awarded to owners for races won, with low-level races (e.g., a claiming race) receiving the fewest points, while stakes-graded races (e.g., Grade I races) would receive the highest number of points. Under such a system, owners that had smaller stables, but with a large number of high-quality, championship horses would end up with more points than owners that had larger stables and a lot of low-grade wins.Leave it to Frank to devote his time to such a self-serving subject even as his empire comes crashing down around him. I mean, who, really, other than he, Michael Iavarone, and a handful of others could give a rat's ass about the Eclipse Award for owners? Funny thing is that Frank actually could have done the sport a service if he applied his points standings proposal to the horses....or even to jockeys, the most visible and marketable human faces in the game. I don't believe that even a publication with as elite a target audience as Thoroughbred Daily News would be interested in owners standings. Instead, it's all about Frank, no doubt a large part of the reason he's in the position he finds himself in today.