It's the season of giving and sharing, of goodwill, infectious carols and afflatus. It's the Season of Joy, but here's what passes for joy these days in horse racing: an unsustainable compromise that the "Baltimore Sun" calls a "Pyrrhic victory."
In Maryland, after much hand-wringing and after the politicos finally realized the state was about to lose thousands of jobs, the racetracks, the horsemen and the regulators reached an agreement this week to keep the Maryland Jockey Club, founded in 1743, and its two racetracks, Pimlico and Laurel, in business. And so the Preakness will remain in Maryland, for at least a year.
But everywhere you look, the story's virtually the same. The sport depends on balancing the interests of the racetracks, the horsemen and the fans, but there's no balance anywhere. Santa Anita opens Sunday with purses projected to be higher, but at the expense of the fans, who'll have to pay more, in the form of a higher takeout, for the privilege of betting. And so it goes: Without balance the sport's listing like a palm tree in a hurricane.