02/22/2017 1:01PM

John Jones projects to make 2017 return during Pimlico's meet

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
John Jones, shown winning the Jennings Stakes, is currently on vacation in South Carolina.

Lacey Gaudet had a career year running her family’s racing operation in 2016, winning 31 races and more than $850,000 in purses. Additionally, she made a tremendous claim in July at Laurel Park on behalf of owner Matt Shera, taking John Jones for $25,000.

John Jones has since developed into one of the leading older horses in Maryland, winning five of six starts, including a pair of Maryland-bred stakes, and earning $222,000. In his lone loss since being claimed, John Jones finished third, beaten two lengths, in the $190,000 Claiming Crown Jewel at Gulfstream Park.

A 5-year-old Smarty Jones gelding, John Jones is currently on vacation.

“He had a great campaign,” said Gaudet, 28. “We gave him the winter off down in South Carolina, and he’ll rejoin my stable around April 1. He’ll probably be ready to run at Pimlico.”

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Gaudet said John Jones’s improvement isn’t due to any specific change she made.

“He was a little sour when we got him. We just made him happy,” Gaudet said. “In the mornings, when he trains, we’ll let him stand out on the track first. Some mornings he won’t feel like backtracking or doing something we want, so we’ll leave him alone. We’ll just say, ‘That’s John. Leave him be.’ ”