11/27/2007 12:00AM

Familiar faces top trainer standings

EmailNEW ORLEANS - After only the first weekend, the trainer leader board at Fair Grounds is looking very familiar. The top five trainers from last year have all returned to the top of the list.

Al Stall, who finished fifth last year, is tied at the top with last year's second-place finisher, Cody Autrey, both with 5 wins from 12 starts.

Last year's top trainer, Tom Amoss, has 4 victories from 14 starts with an amazing 11 of his starters finishing third or better. Rounding out last year's top five are Steve Asmussen and Patrick Mouton, who have 4 wins and 3 wins, respectively. Jorge Lara and Michael Stidham have also won 3 races each.

"I can't ask for anything more," said Stall. "I've been training here the whole month. Putting them in the right spots sets them up for a nice start."

Stall is extremely pleased with the condition of the racing surface this meet. "The track looks and acts like it did in the glory years, 15, 20 years ago," he said. "We worked horses on Monday morning after Sunday's deluge. It handled the water great."

His last winner on opening weekend was Final Refrain in Sunday's seventh race, a first-level allowance that came off the turf.

"We were thrilled to death with how she ran," he said. "She'd always trained well on dirt so we were comfortable letting her stay when it came off the grass. It was still the great unknown. We'll be looking to run her back in an allowance race around Christmas-time."

Autrey, also came to Fair Grounds loaded and ready. "We always bring our horses ready to run," he said. "This is the only part of the year where our horses are in one spot. We'll run 40 to 60 horses here."

Autrey already has claimed three horses, while having two claimed from him.

Stidham has sent only six horses to the starting gate, but has won with half of them, including with his promising 2-year-old Sagaponack, a $525,000 purchase at the Keeneland April sale, who won at first asking.

"We were pleased," said Stidham. "He kind of got hooked between horses and still came away the winner. We'll try him next around two turns. He'll have to get used to it if he's going to be worth the money paid for him."

Injured Perrodin to have surgery

Fair Grounds jockey E.J. Perrodin remained in intensive care Tuesday after being injured in a freak accident in prerace warm-ups on Friday. He has a cracked pelvis, broken ribs, and a lacerated liver. He was originally taken to Tulane Medical Center after the accident but has since been moved to University Hospital.

"He's in a lot of pain," said Tony Martin, agent for Perrodin. "The liver bleeding is under control. They are preparing him for surgery later this week to repair the pelvis. It's a bad situation."

Perrodin was hurt while while warming up No No Bad Kitty before Friday's 10th and final race.

"She started to back up and she lost her balance and fell," said Martin. "They call it setting back. She just kind of sat down, and then rolled back on top of him, then hurt him again when she went to stand up."

Perrodin, 50, is a native of Rayne, La., and is nearing 3,000 career wins. He finished 13th in the standings last season at the Fair Grounds, winning 30 races from 165 mounts. He began riding in 1974, and in 1979 became only the second jockey at the Fair Grounds to ride six winners in a single day.

Hawley back at the track

Also on the mend is Fair Grounds trainer Wes Hawley, 44. He was injured in a motorcycle accident on the night of Nov. 19. Hawley crashed his motorcycle into a median, knocking himself unconscious, breaking two ribs, puncturing a lung, and injuring his lower back.

"I spent five nights in the hospital," said Hawley. "They wouldn't let me get up. They were afraid I'd broken my back. But laying there hurt worse than getting up."

He was released from the hospital on Saturday, and was back training horses on Sunday morning, moving a little more gingerly than usual.

"I 'm a little sore, but I'll be all right," he said.