Jockeys, seeking higher fees for second- and third-place finishers, called off a threatened boycott of Saratoga Race Course that was to start today, and threatened Saturday's $250,000-added Travers Stakes and the remainder of the meet at the Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
John Van Lindt, chairman of the State Racing and Wagering Board, which can impose higher fees, announced that the jockeys had agreed to race after Van Lindt promised that the amount of salary in dispute would be placed into an escrow account until the board rules on the Jockey Guild's appeal.
Meanwhile, Stephan's Odyssey was installed as the early-line 8-5 favorite in a Travers field of seven 3-year-olds that includes Chief's Crown, the beaten favorite in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes, who was rated at 2-1 . . .
The Meadowlands in New Jersey might steal a page from the Breeders' Cup series during next year's harness season and run several existing big races on a single card worth nearly $4 million, the track's general manager says.
"The only thing that would stand in the way of our having it next year would be a major scheduling problem," said Sam Anzalone. "If it's advertised early enough, then I think we'll get all the horses."
Tonight at the Meadowlands, Sherman Almahurst is expected to go off as the favorite in the $1,344,000 Woodrow Wilson Pace . . .
A swampy track forced the owners of Nihilator to scrap a scheduled bid for a world-record mile at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, but they said the pacer would try for the record at DuQuoin (Ill.) later this month. Steady rains overnight left the track -- considered the fastest harness course in the world -- too muddy for the planned time trial.
Nihilator is trying to beat the 1:49 1/5 set by his sire, Niatross, in an October 1980 time trial at the Red Mile in Lexington, Ky. Nihilator turned in the fastest race mile ever, 1:49 3/5, in an invitational pace at the Meadowlands Aug. 3 . . .
Wicked Lee, a 4-year-old pacer who had gone without a victory in 49 previous starts, made it to the winner's circle last night at Freestate Raceway after winning the third race maiden event in 2:02 4/5. Despite his record, Wicked Lee was made the 2.60 to 1 second choice in the race, returning $7.20 to win.