The Slog and the Glory
Fog, mud, and rivals couldn’t stop Justify (ridden by Mike Smith, in white silks) from winning the 143rd Preakness Stakes in May. Three weeks later, the three-year-old chestnut colt would claim the Triple Crown, raising the sport’s profile, if only briefly. When Justify crossed the finish line at the storied but struggling Pimlico track in Baltimore, few fans were watching more closely than Belinda Stronach, chairman and president of the Stronach Group. Her family business, which owns Pimlico and five other tracks, employs some 3,500 full-time people and claims to be the largest private horse-track owner in America. Now, for her company to thrive, Stronach must take on the sport’s entrenched analog problems while facing some modern challenges of the digital age. Five days before this year’s Preakness, the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on sports betting— changing the landscape for horseracing, previously the only sport that Congress had exempted, and setting off a race across the gaming industry to capture a new group of legal sports bettors.