THE GOAT, THE FRITCHIE, AND DONTLETSWEETFOOLYA
There’s a scene in the 2003 motion picture ‘Seabiscuit’ where trainer Tom Smith cradles a goat in his arms as he walks along the road on owner Charles Howard’s California ranch leading to the stable where the movie’s cantankerous main character has been keeping his connections on their toes.
“Goat racing?” Howard, played by actor Jeff Bridges, asks.
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“Oh, no. Just trying to calm him down a little,” fellow Academy Award winner Chris Cooper, playing Smith, answers. “The smart ones, they hate being alone all the time. Sometimes, another animal just soothes them a bit.”
Moments later, the goat is seen exiting Seabiscuit’s stall in mid-air before landing and scampering past an astonished Smith, standing with his mouth open and hands on his hips. Ultimately, Smith brings in a pony to keep Seabiscuit company, and the rest is cinematic history.
Trainer Lacey Gaudet hasn’t had any such trouble since Doris, a 7-month-old baby goat, or kid, joined her Laurel Park barn in mid-January. Doris has been nothing but a positive influence for the entire stable, in particular the occasionally high-strung, multiple stakes-winning filly Dontletsweetfoolya, who is scheduled to make her 4-year-old debut in the $250,000 Runhappy Barbara Fritchie (G3) Feb. 13.
“She’s become the barn mascot,” Gaudet said. “Everybody loves her.”
Especially Five Hellions Farm’s Dontletsweetfoolya, who has reeled off five consecutive wins by 28 ¾ combined lengths including the Primonetta and Willa On the Move stakes at Laurel to cap her sophomore season, the latter on the day after Christmas.
“She since has added a goat to her stall, which we wavered back and forth on doing for a long, long time. It just happened that one of our neighbors got two little goats and they needed a spot for one,” Gaudet said. “It’s been a fantastic experiment.
“She loves the goat, and the goat loves her. My rider swears that it has changed her in the mornings,” she added. “I definitely see a bit of a change in her through her daily routine. I guess we’ll find out next Saturday if it has helped her much.”
Though having animals around the barn with the horses is nothing new to racing it is a first for Team Gaudet. The late Eddie Gaudet won more than 1,700 career races and was the patriarch of one of Maryland’s best known and respected racing families. His wife, Linda, and oldest daughter have done the training since 2011.
“There’s a lot of barns out there that have goats. Everybody does this from time to time, but this is our first time. My dad and my mom never had goats in the barn,” Lacey Gaudet said. “She is the tiniest little thing. She is not even as big as my Jack Russell. She is a tiny goat, but she has been great to have in the barn.
“Everybody loves her,” she added. “She’s so quiet. She doesn’t make any noise. We’ll just walk by at any point in the day and she’ll be sleeping between this filly’s legs or the filly will be laying down and the goat is between her legs.”
Dontletsweetfoolya had her third and final breeze for the Fritchie Feb. 6, going a half-mile in 48 seconds in company with newly turned 3-year-old filly Fraudulent Charge, runner-up to multiple stakes winner Street Lute in the Dec. 26 Gin Talking who is pointing for a rematch in the $100,000 Wide Country, part of the Winter Sprintfest program of six stakes worth $900,000 in purses.
“She hasn’t missed a beat. Her works have been fantastic,” Gaudet said. “She’s just so push-button, where before she was always full speed ahead and we could not slow her down. She was a little rank. We would always try to settle her, to no avail. She’s really gotten to the point where if we want her to work in 51 [seconds], she’ll work in 51. If we want her to work in 48, she’ll work in 48.
“Each work off of that last race was fantastic. Each was a little bit faster and it was definitely under control,” she added. “She’s doing very well, so we’re looking forward to it.”
Approaching her 200th career victory, Gaudet is chasing her first graded-stakes win in the Fritchie. Her most recent attempt came with long shot Charles Town Oaks (G3) runner-up Chauncey in 2018.
“It’s fantastic. The last time we ran in a graded-stake my horse was [42-1] and she ran second and got beat a [neck],” she said. “It’s fun to point toward this race and I think we actually have a chance.”
Among the horses Dontletsweetfoolya is expected to face are fellow multiple stakes winners Hello Beautiful, herself on a three-race win streak, and Needs Supervision; Sharp Starr and Victim of Love, both Grade 3 winners in New York last year.
“It’s funny because last time when she won the stake … people were like, ‘Oh, you’re going to have to face Hello Beautiful now,'” Gaudet said. “I think everybody in Maryland, especially the people on the backside, and everyone that has seen these two fillies flourish, I think they’re all really looking forward to these two coming together. And, we are too.”