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Frank Stronach, Billionaire Owner of U.S. Racetracks, In Family Feud With CEO Daughter

The billionaire who has long run Gulfstream Park and other racetracks across North America is suing his daughter over mismanagement of the family’s assets. His son is suing her, too. 

Horse racing at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.

Now 86, Frank Stronach grew up in Austria during Nazi rule, then emigrated to Canada, where he started Magna International, an auto parts company, and began accumulating wealth. He branched into breeding horses and acquiring racetracks, including Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida, Golden Gate Fields and Santa Anita in California, Portland Meadows in Oregon, and Laurel Park and Pimlico in Maryland.

That led to other real estate, agriculture, technology and entertainment projects. On 95,000 acres in Ocala, the company raises grass-fed beef on the Adena Ranch. On 300 acres in Boynton Beach, it runs the Palm Meadows thoroughbred training center. Gulfstream Park is not just a horse track, but a retail center with a Container Store, a Crate & Barrel and restaurants. Forbes estimates Stronach’s fortune at $1.5B.

Belinda Stronach, now 52, joined the auto parts company as CEO in 2001. As it morphed into The Stronach Group — now a web of 253 corporations and trusts — Belinda became its chairman and president, taking on day-to-day operations. Alan Ossip became CEO of TSG with a reported $1M salary.

According to Thoroughbred Daily News, the elder Stronach sold his Magna shares and stepped away from his other businesses to get involved with Austrian politics — where over the past decade, he helped a new party form and win seats.

But the suit, filed in October in Ontario, Canada, contends that “All members of the family, including Belinda, understood and agreed that Frank would maintain control of the family business as the creator of the family’s wealth." The lawsuit says that upon his return, he was told that the companies had cash-flow problems, that he must let go of some of his interests, and that he had no signing authority any longer, TDN reports.

The suit says that Belinda has dismantled assets, hired unqualified friends and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of company money on parties, vacations, limousine rides and expensive meals.

The lawsuit alleges that Belinda and Ossip conspired on “a series of covert and unlawful actions” and accuses them of breach of fiduciary duty, breach of trust and unlawful means of conspiracy. Two of Belinda’s children, Nicole and Frank Walker, ages 25 and 27, are also named as co-defendants, having served as trustees of family assets for several years. Frank’s wife, Elfriede, is a co-plaintiff.

Frank Stronach asked that Belinda and Ossip be removed from all corporate officer and trustee positions related to the Stronach empire and that they pay $520M Canadian ($398M in USD, per Bloomberg).

This month, Belinda's brother, Andrew Stronach, who owns 23% of the company through family trusts, filed his own lawsuit claiming that Belinda and trustees "have undertaken a number of improvident and costly investments that have resulted in significant losses." He wants a full accounting of the trust. 

Belinda Stronach has denied the allegations. According to the CBC, a Stronach Group spokesperson said the company revenue had increased from $600M USD in 2013 to $1.1B in 2017.

“Frank Stronach was a great auto parts entrepreneur, but his recent excessive spending and numerous failed ventures put his family’s wealth at risk,” Ossip said in a statement.

Opening day for the horse racing season at Gulfstream Park is Dec. 1. The Pegasus World Cup, a signature event with a $9M purse, is set for January.