There are 12 days remaining before Christmas. So on each of the next 12 days, beginning today, I’ll add one gift request to a wish list with the hope that jolly old Saint Nicholas is reading. I invite you to read along and offer your comments to each suggestion daily. Happy Holidays!

(CHICAGO, IL – December 13, 2010) New York’s Republican Leader Dean Skelos announced that he is creating a task force of party members to tackle the thorny issues affecting the State’s horse racing industry. That’s like the captain of the Titantic calling on penguins as crew members to tell him how to navigate around icebergs.

None of the Senator’s cronies have the interest of horse racing at heart; they’re just guys with their hands out, looking around for safe haven. One must wonder where he and the rest of the Empire State’s legislators, regardless of which side of the aisle they are sitting on, have been as the country’s number one center of the sport has been scratching and clawing for flotsam.

With the downfall of New York City OTB, the New York Racing Association faces unprecedented challenges to its purse structure and racing dates. Only a month ago, it seemed New York horse racing was about to enter a new golden age. With some reservation that this sentence is two words too long, now the franchise’s leaders must decide whether to downsize immediately while the issues are sorting themselves out or to roll the dice and keep spending in hope that their upcoming share from the Aqueduct casino develops beyond forecast.

Saying that New York’s current crisis is a blessing in disguise will resonate heretically to some, especially with those people for which the present tense seems comforting. But viewing the situation in terms of a wake-up call is the perspective with which those in charge of things have to view it. Change can come only if the status quo no longer serves the persistent. NYRA has relied too long and too much on subsidies to meet costs instead of developing its own self-sustaining business and has invested too heavily in a political process that fails it repeatedly.

Dear Santa, what a gift it would be to the horse racing nation if the sport turned these sordid affairs into a pursuit of prosperity.

Tomorrow, on the Second Day of Christmas, we’ll travel to the opposite coast and ask Santa to fix things there. Please return to Vic Zast’s TrackWords each day for the next 11 days to complete the wish list.