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Elvis Makes His Crescent City Comeback

Headlines for Friday, November 21, 2008

  • Elvis Makes His Crescent City Comeback
  • ‘Cisco' Punches Out Four-Bagger Sunday
  • Weights Out For Thanksgiving Week Stakes
  • Horsemen's Reminder: La. Derby Early Bird Noms Close Nov. 29
  • Horsemen's BBQ at FG Wednesday
  • 2007 Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile Winner Returns Sunday


Elvis Makes His Crescent City Comeback

NEW ORLEANS, La. - One year after veteran jockey Elvis "E.J." Perrodin was seriously injured on opening weekend of the 2007-2008 season at Fair Grounds, the revered Louisiana-born reinsman returned to the New Orleans oval with a winning ride astride Larry Compagna's Leesa Lee in Sunday's $52,000 featured sprint.

It was a triumphant moment for several reasons. First, the 51-year-old veteran known affectionately as "T-Joe" is so highly regarded on the Louisiana circuit that a benefit crawfish boil organized by fellow Cajun riding star Robby Albarado and other members of the local colony toward the end of last season raised more than $20,000 on his behalf.  At the time, Perrodin attended the event while using a walker.

Second, after winning nine races during his belated return at Louisiana Downs this summer and fall, and adding Sunday's score aboard Leesa Lee, Perrodin is now four wins shy of the coveted 3,000-win milestone.

Also, Leesa Lee, who is trained by Perrodin's brother-in-law Pat Mouton, appears in an ideal spot to return in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint on Dec. 13.

"When I first started back, I felt like a mushroom," said Perrodin, "because my doctors didn't want me to do any physical activity until my injuries healed.  They didn't even want me to do any dancing - nothing other than walking.  My legs felt like noodles.

"But toward the end of the (Shreveport) meet, I was dead fit, and I'm hopeful of having a good meet here.  Getting to 3,000 wins is something I'm looking forward to, but I'm feeling good and I'm hopeful I'll be able to ride another year or year and a half, at least.

"As long as I can do the job, I want to continue riding, and when I leave I want to go out on my own terms.  I still enjoy it, and I'm very grateful to the owners who have stuck by me.  And I also appreciate what Robby and the other riders have done for me.  I can't thank them enough."

However, Perrodin's extended time away from the saddle also resulted in one unlikely benefit - allowing the veteran to spend more time with his 5-year-old son, who is autistic.

"He's really coming along," said Perrodin.  "We've grown very close, and he's getting better every day.   It's great to see him doing so well."


‘Cisco' Punches Out Four-Bagger Sunday

Veteran jockey Francisco Torres is riding full-time at Fair Grounds for the first time this season, but he made everyone stand up and take notice when he rode four winners Sunday.

In the second half of Sunday's Daily Double, Torres won for trainer Larry Robideaux aboard Trusty; came right back in the third on Delta Diamond for Joe Duhon; took the fifth astride Bamboo Gap for Sam David Jr.; and capped off his quartet in the seventh with Lucky Skat for conditioner Sturges Ducoing, father of Torres' agent, Derek Ducoing.

 "It was just one of those things where everything fell into place," said Torres of his Sunday four-bagger. "My trip to Louisiana Downs (for the Shreveport meeting) last summer seems to have to have paid off.  The whole idea of me going to Shreveport was to build up some business for the Fair Grounds meeting, and all those winners Sunday were for trainers that raced at LAD."

Torres, who was raised in Chicago, returned briefly to the Windy City after Sunday's big day and was on his way to O'Hare International Airport Thursday afternoon to return to New Orleans in time for Friday's racing program.

"It's snowing and cold here right now," Torres said of Chicago.  "I don't miss that kind of weather at all.  I'm looking forward to getting back to New Orleans."

One of the more interesting aspects of Torres' multifaceted career includes a stint as an actor - playing the role of Hall of Fame jockey Braulio Baeza a few years ago in a TV movie about the great filly Ruffian.

"That proved to be a unique experience," said Torres of his career as a thespian.  "Getting to talk to Braulio, as well as Jacinto Vasquez and truly great riders like that taught me a lot.

"But right now I just want to focus on the meeting at Fair Grounds," said Torres.  "(Agent) Derek and I have been getting here at 5 o'clock in the morning every day trying to stir things up, and we're hoping we can keep this up and have a great meeting."


Weights Out For Thanksgiving Week Stakes

Thanksgiving week at Fair Grounds offers stakes action on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and all three races are handicaps.

One of the stars of last season at Fair Grounds, Euroears, is the 122-pound highweight in the Thanksgiving Handicap, the annual Turkey Day feature for sprinters, though the Bret Calhoun trainee is entered in Saturday's Bet on Sunshine overnight handicap at Churchill Downs. Euroears was 4-for-4 last season at Fair Grounds and is 6-for-6 lifetime.

A pair of horses from the Mark Frostad barn were assigned top weights for next Friday's "Buddy" Diliberto Memorial Handicap on the turf. Windward Islands, who would be making his third start off a layoff, is the 121-pound top weight in the Diliberto, followed by stablemate French Beret, who excelled in New Orleans last winter, capturing the Grade III Col. E.R. Bradley Handicap and finishing second in the Grade II Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap.

Three-year-olds head the weight assignment list for next Saturday's Tenacious Handicap. The Neil Howard-trained Mambo in Seattle - who was one of the top sophomores in the nation this summer after three wins and a loss by the narrowest of noses in the Travers Stakes - has been assigned 120 pounds. Macho Again, an allowance winner here last winter who went on to capture the Derby Trial and the Grade II Jim Dandy for trainer Dallas Stewart, gets 119.

First post on each of the three days of racing is 15 minutes earlier than usual, at 12:15 p.m. CST.

Horsemen's Reminder: La. Derby Early Bird Noms Close Nov. 29

Racing Secretary Jason Boulet reminds horsemen that early bird nominations to the 96th running of the Grade II $600,000 Louisiana Derby close Nov. 29.

Early bird nominations to the annual centerpiece of the Fair Grounds meeting are $500 and also include automatic nominations to the Grade III Lecomte Stakes for 3-year-olds on Jan. 10 as well as the Grade III Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 7.

Nomination forms are available on Fair Grounds' website at fairgroundsracecourse.com and at racing offices around the country.

Nominations to the $60,000 Pago Hop Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at about one mile over the Stall-Wilson turf course Dec. 6 close Saturday.


Horsemen's Barbecue at FG Wednesday

Thoroughbred owner Stanley Seelig and Fair Grounds have announced that horsemen are invited to a special Horsemen's Barbecue on Wednesday from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

The barbecue will be held in the track kitchen. Horsemen must present their Louisiana State Racing Commission license to be served.

2007 Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile Winner Returns Sunday

Brittlyn Stable Inc.'s Star Guitar, winner of Fair Grounds' 2007 Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile, has been entered in Sunday's ninth race.

Trained by Al Stall Jr, the sophomore son of Quiet American was injured shortly before last January's Grade III Lecomte Stakes, and returned to competition Sept. 25 at Louisiana Downs with a third-place finish.