Bill Mack & Bob Baker
Strong Mandate, Hopeful, Saratoga, 2nd September 2013
Trained by D. Wayne Lukas, Sire: Tiznow. Dam: Clear Mandate
Bill Mack, the founder and chairman of AREA Property Partners, chairman of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, and chairman of the board of directors of the Mack-Cali Realty Corporation, and Bob Baker, who is the chairman and CEO of National Realty and Development Corporation in Purchase, New York, have been winning Grade 1 stakes races for 16 years, all with D. Wayne Lukas as trainer.
In 1997, their colt Grand Slam won the Grade 1 Futurity and Champagne before suffering a leg injury in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. They sold a half-interest in Grand Slam to Coolmore Stud for $5 million. Grand Slam recovered from his injury and finished second in the 1998 Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Mack and Baker also campaigned stakes winners Proud Citizen (with David Cornstein), who finished second in the 2002 Kentucky Derby and third in the Preakness, and 2009 Hopeful Stakes winner Dublin.
Strong Mandate didn’t indicate he would join their elite company of Grade 1 winners when he finished fifth by 12¼ lengths to Big Sugar Soda in his Saratoga debut six weeks before the Hopeful, which Big Sugar Soda would also enter.
In the interim, Lukas added blinkers, and Strong Mandate won a maiden race wire-to-wire by 4¼ lengths. In the Hopeful – Lukas’ 78th birthday – he blew past the leaders and won by a jaw-dropping 9¾ lengths under wraps for the final sixteenth of a mile. “Blinkers usually help with my horses,” Lukas said in a joyful winner’s circle. “These guys, Bill Mack and Bob Baker, have been with me for 25 years. We’ve gone through a lot. We’ve had Grand Slam and Dublin down through the years and Scorpion and Proud Citizen. We had some nice horses, but I don’t know if we’ve had one this good.” When jockey Jose Ortiz returned Strong Mandate to the winner’s circle, Mack put his arm around Baker and said, “This is what it’s all about.”