The president of the Stronach Group — the leading owner and operator of horse tracks in the United States, including Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park — has brought some of her star quality to the Preakness this year in the form of a VIP chalet."The atmosphere is sort of like Soho House meets Ralph Lauren," said Stronach."We wanted to keep the tradition, the Maryland tradition, because we know people here love the heritage of the Preakness, and at the same time we wanted to bring in some modern elements."As Don Martin, Canadian TV host and writer of the 2007 biography "Belinda: The Political and Private Life of Belinda Stronach," put it, she is "the perfect storm of celebrity and politician."Stronach was previously CEO of Magna International Inc., the multibillion-dollar automotive company her father founded.I got to take on important issues and help solve them. "But I believe there are many ways to make a positive social change."As her political career ended, so did some of the fascination, according to Martin."If Twitter were around back then, she would have broke Twitter regularly," he said. She just doesn't want it anymore, and she tries mightily to avoid it."But Stronach still faces media scrutiny."Someone called me a 'disrupter' the other day," she said. For the tent, Stronach has enlisted Los Angeles interior designer Karan Brady to adorn a chalet with designer tartan and fabrics and vintage items, including hand-picked Parisian tapestry pillows, Turkish Oushak rugs and equestrian-themed designs and memorabilia from the Maryland Jockey Club Museum.Chandeliers and reclaimed wooden beams from a 19th-century barn line the ceiling.She made headlines for leaving the Conservatives to join the Liberals. She dated former Conservative Party leader Peter Mac Kay and the now-retired NHL player Tie Domi.
At 3,000 square feet, Stronach's tent will invite more than 150 notables, including Gov.Tumbled limestone, custom topiaries and French doors with English ivy on the track-side courtyard will welcome attendees. Sal Sinatra, the Maryland Jockey Club's general manager, said the company replaced the infield TV screen and made other improvements to the spectator experience."We're happy that Belinda is coming.That sort of solidifies her and the company's commitment to Maryland racing," Sinatra said.Subsequent news stories noted that she and the Conservative deputy leader were "on a break," which is code-speak among women for "I’m ditching you but I want you to go quietly and not make a scene." I’m guessing Stronach had figured out weeks ago what the rest of us already knew: she wasn’t just in the wrong clique, she was slumming.Some media seem to think this story is just the lure for capturing the People-reading riff-raff normally preoccupied with the Brad-and-Jen break-up.