09/11/2006 11:00PM

A tighter team than most

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E.J. Perrodin and Patrick Mouton have emerged in the last few years as one of the highest win-percentage jockey-trainer teams in Louisiana. They went 2 for 3 on Sunday at Louisiana Downs, and with those victories surpassed their earnings together from the corresponding meet in 2005. The success is sweet, and even more so because they are family.

"Pat's my brother-in-law," said Perrodin. "We married sisters. We've got a good relationship. We work well together."

Perrodin, 49, and Mouton, 61, have won with 29 of 102 starters together this meet, teaming for purse earnings of $585,615. Their double on Sunday pushed them past their joint earnings of $557,574 last year at Louisiana Downs, when they went 22 for 116. This year's strong meet comes on the heels of a huge Fair Grounds meet at Louisiana Downs.

"I think in 33 days we knocked out more than a half-million," Perrodin said of his earnings with Mouton.

The men went 16 for 59 together at the meet, for joint Fair Grounds earnings of $645,746. Spurring their success were stakes wins by The Beter Man Can and Nob Hill Deelite.

In the past few years, Mouton's stable has gotten stronger, earning a career-best $1.6 million in 2005. He said his barn numbers 50 head, up from the 35 horses he had last year at Louisiana Downs. Mouton ranks second in the standings to the perennial Louisiana Downs leader, Cole Norman.

"We came in here with some young horses with conditions, and owners keep me with good horses, so it's been nice," said Mouton. "I've got some young horses that are really just getting started that have a lot of promise. I think we're going to have a good winter."

Mouton, married to the former Pam Pappas, said the expansion of his stable is in large part the result of existing owners sending him more horses. He said he has also picked up a few new clients, like Maggi Moss, who is the leading owner in wins in North America. Another big part of the stable, Mouton said, is Perrodin.

"Our percentages are real good together," he said of the rider with whom he has done business for 15 years. "He always puts your horse in a position to win."

Mouton's rise has played a role in Perrodin's strong earnings run the last few years. His mounts earned a career-best $2.4 million in 2003. Perrodin followed that up with a $2.1 million year in 2004 and a $2.3 million year in 2005. Also bolstering those figures were Perrodin's rich stakes wins aboard turf horses like Candid Glen, Sarah Lane's Oates, Waupaca, and Silver Haze.

"He's deadly on turf," said Tony Martin, who has been Perrodin's agent the last seven years. "If you notice, he's always got horse closing on the end. He's a very patient rider."

Perrodin, who is 10th in the standings at Louisiana Downs, has long been known for his skills on turf. In earlier years, he won grass stakes with such noted horses as Clever Song, Police Inspector, and Composure.

"When you ride the grass, it's like chess," he said. "Before you make a move, you want to know what's going to be your next move. If something would happen, and I'd fall into this hole, can I continue to keep on going where I won't break my momentum?

"And patience. The more patience you've got the better off you are, because you'll have a stronger finish."

Perrodin has won 2,925 races since launching his career in 1973. In addition to riding in Louisiana he has ridden at Churchill Downs, Keeneland, Arlington Park, and the old Detroit Race Course. He said in a few years he could retire, something he has discussed with his wife, Lisa. They have a son who is 2.

"I'll try for two more years, and then everything's going to be up in the air," he said.

Until then, Perrodin and Mouton will no doubt continue racking up wins together.

Rematch possible in Juvenile

Western Prize, who finished second by a neck to Going Ballistic in the $100,000 El Joven at Retama Park, is under consideration for the $100,000 Juvenile at 1 1/16 miles on turf here Sept. 23. The race is also a goal for Going Ballistic.

Western Prize put in a strong stretch bid in the one-mile El Joven. Before that he was second in the seven-furlong Ellis Park Juvenile.

"He's a nice horse who's going to get better with more distance," said Scott Blasi, who trains Western Prize.

* Leestown Fantasie, Smokey Diplomacy, and Won Ton Win, the top contenders in the featured ninth race on Thursday, drew the three outside posts. The optional claiming race will be run at about 1 1/16 miles on turf.