02/22/2008 1:00AM

Perrodin plots return to races by mid-May


NEW ORLEANS - When the accident happened, many worried that jockey E.J. Perrodin wouldn't ride again, but Perrodin had confidence.

He was injured in the post parade at Fair Grounds on Nov. 23, when his mount, No No Bad Kitty, reared up and then fell back, trapping Perrodin underneath.

With injuries as severe as a lacerated liver and a shattered pelvis, Perrodin, 51, knew the road back would be difficult, but he began planning for his return.

After being stabilized, including the insertion of screws to repair his pelvis, Perrodin was moved by ambulance to his home in Haughton, La., in the northern part of the state, where he has continued to convalesce.

"I'm doing good, gradually getting from a walker and going with a cane," said Perrodin. "I went to the doctor today, and he said I was 70 percent, on the way to being 100 percent."

Perrodin has been largely homebound in the 2 1/2 months since the accident, with travel by car painful.

"I just kind of stay indoors." said Perrodin. "My wife gets movies and I watch them and mess with Devid," Perrodin's 4-year-old son.

While on the mend, Perrodin hasn't been watching much horse racing on television.

"I don't like to watch the races," said Perrodin. "Seeing some of my horses win is hard. You don't want to be watching, you want to be riding."

After the accident, doctors told Perrodin it would be five or six months before he would be completely recovered. He hopes to be ready to ride when the Louisiana Downs meet in nearby Shreveport opens May 17.

"The middle of May, if I feel good, that's my date," Perrodin said.

The Fair Grounds jockey colony and track officials have teamed up in planning a benefit for Perrodin on March 12. The event will be a crawfish boil with live zydeco music, featuring a silent and live auction of racing memorabilia.

"It's riders helping riders," said jockey Robby Albarado, who has helped coordinate the collection of racing memorabilia from the jockeys. All proceeds will go to help Perrodin defray expenses associated with his injuries.

"It's tough to be away," said Perrodin. "But, it feels good to have people miss me, telling me they have me in their prayers."

Stable of Saints and singers

The beginning chapter of Last Mango Racing Stable was written on a boat owned by the singer Jimmy Buffett, and the middle chapter now includes a trip to the winner's circle.

When Pulaski County came from off the pace to win by a length in Thursday's eighth race, a $50,000 maiden claiming race, he made winners of his ownership team, a group of 20-plus, including New Orleans Saints players and coaching staff, former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski, and Buffett.

Pulaski County, trained by Tom Amoss, won for the first time, four races after being claimed by the group for $50,000. He paid $7.80 to win.

The ownership group is led by the Saints' vice president of communications, Greg Bensel, and includes Saints quarterback Drew Brees, coach Sean Payton, and general manager Mickey Loomis.

"Greg Bensel has done a terrific job of introducing the group to horse racing," said Amoss. "The great thing about a horse owned by 20 to 25 people is that no one is going to get hurt financially, and it gives them a real taste of owning a racehorse."

Bensel is recovering from knee surgery, and is walking with a limp, but was present at the track for the win.

Amoss said that Payton "called me about 10 minutes before the race and said that he had a good feeling about this horse. I told him that the good news was that the horse was walking a lot better than Bensel."

Pulaski County's victory sets him up for another race in New Orleans before the season ends on March 23, but Amoss and Bensel will first wait to see how he comes out the race.

The name of the racing stable comes from Buffett's song "Last Mango in Paris," and the name of Buffett's boat, aboard which the plans for the racing stable were hatched, is the Last Mango III.