Tom Chukas and Frank Stronach
According to rumors out in the horse community and now the Baltimore Sun, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley brokered a last-minute deal between the owners of Maryland’s two major thoroughbred tracks and the horsemen and breeders to guarantee live races next year — less than 24 hours after a state commission rejected a proposed schedule.  Sources say the deal was made at an emergency meeting this morning.
The owners of Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course and representatives of horse owners and breeders — who traded some contentious words on Tuesday night at a Maryland Racing Commission meeting — agreed after a meeting at the State House this morning to a framework that would allow the tracks to at least break even financially and run 146 days in 2011, the same as this year’s schedule.
The agreement, which would need the racing commission’s approval, calls for the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association to contribute $1.7 million and the state to transfer $3 million to $4 million from the state’s slot-machine program to help pay for the Maryland Jockey Club’s operations. The slots revenue had been earmarked for a track improvements.

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