NEW ORLEANS (Wednesday, February 08, 2012) – There were a lot of highpoints along the way in the lengthy and distinguished riding career of Louisiana-born jockey Elvis (E J.) Perrodin, but at 55 years of age, the lanky, popular reinsman affectionately known as Tee-Joe decided late last week that it was time to hang up his tack.

Perrodin was listed to ride Michael Collins’ The Reverend James for his brother-in-law, trainer Pat Mouton, in last Friday’s third race but took off that mount when announcing his retirement.

“I came to the decision to retire in the middle of the week, but it helped that I was able to talk it over with my brother-in-law first before I announced it,” Perrodin said, speaking over the phone Wednesday morning from his home. “He didn’t try to talk me out of it or anything like that. He just wished me luck in whatever I chose to do. He was very supportive.

“I’m still getting used to the idea of doing something else for a living,” Perrodin said, “but I’m thinking I’d like to try being a jock’s agent at Louisiana Downs this summer. Maybe that will give me plenty of time to ease into that.”

Born in Rayne, Louisiana, in 1956 – the same year his namesake Elvis Presley became a national phenomenon – Perrodin began riding in 1975 at the small bush tracks around his home, but the list of his career achievements at Fair Grounds is more worthy of note.

“Of all the horses I rode, my favorite one had to be Listcapade,” he said quickly of the Mrs. J. W. Brown color bearer. “I won something like six or seven stakes race on him, including the Grade II New Orleans Handicap in 1983. He was something special.”
Another lucrative afternoon for Perrodin came in the Grade II Explosive Bid Handicap in 2003 aboard Candid Glen, but his best single racing day at Fair Grounds came on Nov. 18, 1979, when he rode six winners on the card. Another one of his most memorable days at the Crescent City oval came on Dec. 5, 2008, when he reached the 3,000-win milestone aboard He’s Royal Dee for Mouton.

“If there was any place I wanted to reach this milestone, I wanted it to be right here at Fair Grounds,” said Perrodin following that achievement.

That milestone was recorded just over a year after Perrodin had suffered career-threatening injuries here when his mount No No Bad Kitty rolled over on him in a gate accident on opening weekend of the 2007-2008 meeting. Following that mishap, Perrodin underwent surgery for a cracked pelvis and also suffered broken ribs and a lacerated liver.

However, toward the end of that session, Perrodin was able to return to Fair Grounds – albeit with the assistance of a walker – for a benefit crawfish boil organized on his behalf by fellow Cajun riding star Robby Albarado and other members of the local colony.

“I’ll tell you what – those guys all did a remarkable job for me,” said Perrodin. “They did a bunch of things for me that made sense and I really appreciated all their efforts.”

The crawfish boil raised more than $20,000 to help offset the rider’s medical expenses, but by the end of the summer, Perrodin was able to return to the saddle at Louisiana Downs where he was able to win nine races before coming to Fair Grounds to record his 3,000th career win.

“When I first started back that summer, I felt like a mushroom,” Perrodin said. “The doctors didn’t want me to do any physical activity until my injuries healed – nothing other than walking. My legs felt like noodles, but by the end of the summer I was dead fit again.”

LOUISIANA DERBY WINNER PANTS ON FIRE READIES FOR RETURN – Twice at the end of the last four winter seasons at Fair Grounds, horses trained by Todd Pletcher have parlayed their Grade II Louisiana Derby victories to wins in the Grade II New Orleans Handicap the following season.

Could trainer Kelly Breen, who saddled George and Lori Hall’s Pants On Fire to win the $1 million Louisiana Derby last season, become another conditioner to accomplish that feat?

“We’re going to take it race by race right now,” said Breen, speaking over the phone from South Florida Wednesday morning of his colt who followed up his Louisiana Derby score with another in the Grade III Pegasus at Monmouth last June.

Pants On Fire has been away from competition since a fifth-place finish in the Grade I Haskell Invitational on the Jersey Shore last July 31, but he’s been working religiously at Palm Meadows in recent weeks, most recently last Friday when he went a half-mile in 48.60.

“He’s ready to run, now,” said Breen. “We’re looking at an allowance race on the grass this weekend at Gulfstream (for his first start back), but it’s supposed to rain this weekend and that race may come off. I can’t say for sure right now if we’ll run him if it stays on the grass, but we’ll see what happens this weekend and make our other plans after that.”

In addition to Pletcher’s pair – Twin Creeks Racing Stable’s Mission Impazible last season and Michael and Doreen Tabor’s Circular Quay three years prior – Edmund Gann’s Peace Rules, conditioned by the late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, was able to complete the Louisiana Derby-New Orleans Handicap double in 2004 and Golden Chance Farm’s Master Derby, trained by the late Smiley Adams, was the first to complete that double, in 1976.