09/16/2004 11:00PM

Mountaineer riders air concerns

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Jockeys at Mountaineer Race Track backed away from a threat to boycott Friday's card after meeting with representatives of the Jockeys' Guild for three hours that afternoon, Guild representatives said.

According to the representatives, jockeys at the track were concerned about safety issues and insurance coverage at Mountaineer, a year-round racetrack in West Virginia. The issues came to the forefront after one of the colony's riders, Gary Birzer, was paralyzed in an accident at Mountaineer on July 20.

Albert Fiss, a vice president of the Guild, said that approximately 90 percent of riders at Mountaineer attended the meeting, along with many of their spouses. Dr. L. Wayne Gertmenian, the president of the Guild, led the meeting.

The representatives said that they wanted Mountaineer's management to aid in lobbying for a bill that would allow for workers' compensation benefits for jockeys.