When the devastating news concerning the health issues of recently retired jockey
E.J. “Tee Joe” Perrodin
became public – and that Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots would be hosting a charitable crawfish boil
March 20 to benefit the
popular rider’s family – one of the first people to volunteer his
services at the upcoming event was Hall of Fame trainer
Jack Van Berg,
who will be returning to New Orleans that afternoon as an auctioneer.
Louisianan Perrodin, 55, who won 3,083
during his lengthy career, announced his retirement from the saddle in
early February at Fair Grounds. Tragically, just days later, the revered
reinsman was diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer.
Nebraska-born Van Berg, who won 10 Fair
Grounds training titles during a 12-year period at the Crescent
City oval from 1965
to 1977, ranks second among Thoroughbred racing’s all-time conditioners
with more than 6,400 winners and is the all-time leading trainer at
Fair Grounds. Like his late father
Marion Van Berg before him,
Jack is a member of the
Fair Grounds Hall of Fame as well as the
National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame at Saratoga Springs,
Van Berg is also an accomplished auctioneer,
and as soon as he heard about Perrodin’s illness and the local oval’s
upcoming crawfish boil on behalf of the rider’s family, Van Berg called
Sandra Salmen of Fair
Grounds horsemen’s relations and offered to fly in to help auction off
souvenir items donated to the Perrodin family’s cause.
I knew E. J. pretty well when I raced
down there,” said Van Berg, reached by cell phone while astride his
pony during training hours at Santa Anita this week. “He rode quite a
few horses for me and he was always a real good fellow.
“I’m looking forward to coming back down there
to New Orleans
for a cause like this one,” Van Berg said. “I can’t even tell you the
last time I was down there but it’s been a while now. I’d like to get
there on Sunday if I can get away for
that long because I know I have to get back out here pretty quick.”
Grounds’ annual dark day crawfish boil
in the paddock – with proceeds from this year’s feast benefiting
Perrodin’s family – will feature mountains of mudbugs as well as corn,
potatoes and beer. Festivities will also include the traditional Jockey
Crawfish-Eating Contest as well the chance to bid
on the racing souvenirs donated. Tickets are $25. For further
information contact Sandra Salmen at (504) 948-1150 or
PRINCESS DEBUTS LIKE RACING ROYALTY
Wine Princess, a 3-year-old filly by
2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper and out of
2002 Horse of the Year Azeri,
made the first start of her career in the fifth race at Fair Grounds
Thursday and finished second despite encountering some trouble along the
“She clipped heels early on and that was a
lot to overcome,” said trainer Steve Margolis
Friday, “but she finished up real well and that’s what we were looking
for. We knew she wasn’t really a 5 1/2-furlong horse going in, but we
were anxious to get her started
and that race was kind of a good starting point for us.”
Wine Princess was a $475,000 purchase at the
Keeneland September sale in 2010.
DERBY, OAKS FUTURE WAGERS FEATURE FAIR GROUNDS RUNNERS
Let’s Go Stable’s
El Padrino, the Todd Pletcher trainee ridden by
Javier Castellano who was best by a nose in Fair Grounds’
Grade II Risen Star Stakes Feb. 25 as the designed prep for the upcoming
$1 million Louisiana
Derby on April 1, closed out at 12.70-1 when the second pool of the
Kentucky Derby Future Wager closed last Sunday.
trainer Pletcher was credited
with the 3,000th victory of his career exactly two weeks before El
Padrino’s Risen Star win, while jockey Castellano earned his 3,000th
career win one day before his winning ride in the Risen Star.
Mark Valeski, beaten a nose
when the Risen Star runner-up, closed out the second pool of the
Kentucky Derby Future Wager at 38.70-1 despite the narrow margin of his
Risen Star defeat.
Gillian Campbell et al.’s
Summer Applause, heroine of Fair Grounds’
Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes on Feb. 25 as the final designed prep for the upcoming
$500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks on March 31, closed out the lone
Kentucky Oaks Future Wager last Sunday at 16.40-1.
Bret Calhoun, Summer Applause was ridden by seven-time Fair Grounds riding champion
Robby Albarado in the Rachel Alexandra.
Tall Oaks Farm’s
Avie’s Sense, the Rachel
Alexandra runner-up who was beaten a length by the winner, closed out
the only Kentucky Oaks Future Wager at a generous 44.80-1.
Avie’s Sense is trained by
Josie Carroll and was ridden by jockey
James Graham, currently the runner-up in the Fair Grounds standings, when she went to the post in the Rachel Alexandra.
YOUR CALENDAR: LA. DERBY POST DRAW MARCH 26
Post positions for the $1 million Louisiana Derby will be drawn at a
special media event March 26 at 11 a.m. in the Fair Grounds paddock.
Trainers with horses prominent in the Louisiana Derby will be available
for one-on-one interviews immediately following
the draw. The rest of the Closing Day card will be drawn that morning
in the Racing Office.
PAINTINGS ON VIEW IN CLUBHOUSE
Four original large-scale, racing-themed oil paintings by New Orleans-based artist
Ruth Owens are on view in
the Clubhouse for the remainder of the season. The paintings are
available for purchase from the artist, with a portion of the proceeds
to benefit the
Louisiana Horse Rescue Association.
Three of the paintings capture head-on views of Thoroughbreds racing
down the stretch, while the fourth is a tight view of a racehorse’s head
with the jockey perched just behind.
“My interest is to explore ideas of tension and conflict,” Owens said.
“Portraying the mighty horse and diminutive rider, with the exact
opposite holding of power, is the type of tension I am drawn to.” For
information, contact Owens at (504) 914-8098.