Eddie Gaudet and Billy Christmas have forgotten more about racing than most of us will ever know.
But the two men, both octogenarians, remember plenty, too. Gaudet, a Massachusetts product, began his career as a jockey in New England. According to Equibase records, he began training in 1959 and continued to be a trainer of record through 2011 — the year, coincidentally, that he had his only Preakness starter, in Concealed Identity. That horse, a son of Smarty Jones, scored an upset in the 2011 Federico Tesio to earn a trip to the big dance, in which he finished tenth (a neck ahead of another Bowie-based horse, Norman Asbjornson).
Gaudet trainees won over 1,700 races and earned more than $23 million during his long career. These days, he’s turned over the training operation to his wife Linda and daughter Lacey, while his other daughter, Gabby, is set to assume on-air handicapper duties for the Maryland Jockey Club. Gaudet still likes to spend time at the barn, though, and Concealed Identity sees that as a good thing; the horse and his former trainer get along famously.
Christmas, a Marylander by birth, comes from a racing family. He began training, he says, in 1948 and still manages a string. He won a couple of races last year, and though his horses are winless so far in 2013, hope springs eternal. His next chance at a winner will come Friday, at Pimlico.
It’s been a good ride, both men agree, and that’s why they’re still dancing into their ninth decades. Jeff Krulik visited with them on the Pimlico backstretch prior to the Preakness.