When the devastating news concerning the health issues of recently retired jockey E.J. Perrodin became public, Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg was one of the first people to volunteer his services at an upcoming Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots charitable crawfish boil March 20.
Van Berg will act as an auctioneer at the event to benefit the popular rider’s family.
Native Louisianan Perrodin, 55, who won 3,083 during his lengthy career, announced is retirement from the saddle in early February at Fair Grounds. Tragically, just days later, the he was diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer.
Van Berg won 10 Fair Grounds training titles during a 12-year period at the Crescent City oval from 1965 to 1977. He 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, N.Y.
Van Berg is also an accomplished auctioneer. As soon as he heard about Perrodin’s illness and the upcoming crawfish boil on behalf of the rider’s family, Van Berg called longtime friend 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.
“Yeah, I knew E. J. pretty well when I raced down there,” said Van Berg. “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.”
Fair Grounds’ annual event, with proceeds going to the Perrodin 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 Sandra.Salmen@fgno.com.