John Jones
Trainer Lacey Gaudet and John Jones make their way to the winner’s circle. Photo by The Racing Biz.

Carrying the mantle for one of Maryland’s best known and respected racing families, trainer Lacey Gaudet has been proud to continue the tradition her late father, Eddie, began in the 1950s.

Saturday, the 33-year-old Gaudet is hoping to add another chapter to the family’s legacy and join her father as a graded-stakes winner.

Gaudet will send out Five Hellions Farm’s Dontletsweetfoolya in the $250,000 Runhappy Barbara Fritchie (G3) at Laurel Park, co-headliner with the $250,000 General George (G3) on a nine-race Winter Sprintfest program featuring six stakes worth $900,000 in purses. Post time is 12:25 p.m.

One of Eddie Gaudet’s three career graded victories came with Star Touch in the 1991 General George, the first year it carried graded status, then Grade 2. He also won the 1985 Anne Arundel Handicap (G3) with Classy Cut and 1994 Garden State (G3) with Alleged Impression.

Overall, Eddie Gaudet won more than 1,700 races before retiring at the end of 2011, passing away at age 87 in January 2018. Two years earlier Gaudet and her mother, Linda, herself a noted horseman, owner and trainer, combined their stables into Team Gaudet with great success.

They turned John Jones, a $25,000 claim in the summer of 2018, into a multiple stakes winner and track record holder at Colonial Downs before he was retired. They broke Double Crown’s maiden at Laurel in 2019 before the horse was sold and became a multiple stakes winner and twice graded-stakes placed including runner-up in the 2020 Chick Lang (G3) at Pimlico Race Course.

The new stable star is Dontletsweetfoolya, a winner of five consecutive races by 28 ¼ combined lengths, the last two wins coming in stakes – the Nov. 28 Primonetta and Dec. 26 Willa On the Move. By multiple Grade 1 winner Stay Thirsty, she will be making her season debut in the Fritchie for Gaudet, four wins shy of 200 for her young career.

“We’re going into the race confident and we know that we have a nice filly, and I think that it’s just going to be fun from here on out,” she said. “If she wins, great. It’s not going to take anything away from her if she gets beat, but to go for six in a row and get a graded stakes under her belt? That would be fantastic.”

The connections remained patient as Dontletsweetfoolya matured from her high-strung juvenile days. She went winless in two starts at 2, and needed two more races before breaking her maiden last July. Following an allowance win at Laurel in September, Gaudet resisted the temptation to step up in a race like the Miss Preakness (G3), part of the rescheduled Preakness Day program in October.

Instead, Dontletsweetfoolya went to Pimlico anyway for an optional claiming allowance two days earlier, overcoming an eventful ship and a troubled start for a three-length triumph that earned her a shot at stakes company.

“She matured a lot as a 3-year-old from her 2-year-old season, and that showed on her form last year. So, hopefully she can start off her 4-year-old season the right way,” Gaudet said. “She’s doing everything right. We stayed the course and we went through the races that we hoped to hit and we said that this was going to be our ultimate goal. We’re here, she’s ready and she’s doing great, so it’s time to test her.”

Dontletsweetfoolya drew Post 3 in a field of eight and was made the 7-2 third choice on the morning line for the Fritchie behind 8-5 favorite Hello Beautiful and Grade 3 winner Sharp Starr. Hello Beautiful, a five-time stakes winner including each of her last three starts, will break from the far outside.

Gaudet’s last graded-stakes attempt came with long shot Chauncey, second by a neck at odds of 42-1 in the 2018 Charles Town Oaks (G3).

“We drew inside of a lot of the speed,” Gaudet said. “The last couple of races I’ve left it up to [jockey Jevian] Toledo, and she just does whatever he wants her to. So, I think I’m just going to leave it up to him.

“I know Hello Beautiful has a lot of speed. I don’t think she’s the only one, but I do think that we’ll definitely be the pace, the two of us, and we’ll see how they fare,” she added. “It takes a little bit of the pressure off, because we know where she’s going to be. We’re not going to change our tactics in this race.”

Gaudet and Five Hellions will have another stakes starter Saturday, Fraudulent Charge, in the $100,000 Wide Country for 3-year-old fillies. Making her season debut, she is fourth choice of nine at 6-1 behind 2-1 program favorite Street Lute, a winner of four straight stakes and five overall. Fraudulent Charge nearly ended that streak in the Dec. 26 Gin Talking, her late rally coming up a nose short.

“We always liked her, but she definitely ran huge last time. She’s matured since then, she’s grown since then and she’s just going into this race fantastic,” Gaudet said. “I know there’s speed. I don’t think that she’ll be speed, she’s kind of a little different from [Street Lute]. [Jockey] Johan [Rosado] says that she’s very push-button, so I think that he’ll be able to rate her a little bit behind the speed and if she can make that run like she did last time, I think she’ll be very dangerous.”