A tentative agreement has been reached between the Jockeys' Guild and the Thoroughbred Racing Association, preventing a nationwide jockey strike tomorrow, the Guild said last night.
Some paperwork and some minor details had not been worked out, but the riders' union is satisfied that the main stumbling blocks -- accident and health coverage as well as television revenues -- have been solved. Guild members throughout the country have been told to once again start accepting mounts.
"It's just a matter of us going over a few things and we don't want to hold the riders up over language," said Jockeys' Guild spokesman Brian Meara.
Meanwhile, the TRA did not declare an end to the impasse, but
officials of that group did admit that a settlement seemed imminent.
The existing contract between the TRA and the Jockeys' Guild expires at midnight tonight and jockeys across the country were threatening to strike unless given what they considered adequate insurance coverage. The issue over television rights fees remains unresolved, but both sides have worked out an agreement allowing for the matter to be settled in the courts.
Without an agreement in place at the time, Aqueduct's riders were bracing for a strike yesterday afternoon. Not one of New York's regular riders was willing to ride in case of a strike and none accepted mounts for tomorrow's races. According to NYRA executive vice president Gerry Lawrence, 31 substitute riders werelined up.
Most trainers did not name jockeys when entering their horses for tomorrow, but some replacement riders were given mounts. The list included Bill Fox and Jose Romero, both of whom crossed picket lines to ride during a strike at Aqueduct during the fall of 1988. Some New York riders who rarely receive mounts also agreed to ride.
"I think it's a little tough asking a bugboy to go out [on strike]," said Sal Iorio Jr., a seldom-used apprentice. "I need to ride as much as I can. I sort of feel bad because these guys are my friends and I don't want to go against them, but I have to look out for myself."
Trainers will be able to replace the replacements today, when late jockey assignments are reported.