12/07/2016 9:56AM

Laurel: Trainer Lacey Gaudet on a tear

Lauren King/Coglianese Photography
Marabea wins the Claiming Crown Tiara for trainer Lacey Gaudet last Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

In the first nine years after she took out her trainer’s license, Lacey Gaudet’s horses won a grand total of 34 races. The lean years included back-to-back four-win seasons in 2014 and 2015. Then she made a smart move. She joined forces with her mom, longtime trainer Linda Gaudet, to train for Team Gaudet in 2016.

“It was a great idea. It’s been beneficial for both of us,” Lacey Gaudet told the publicity staff at Gulfstream Park, where she traveled from Maryland for last Saturday’s Claiming Crown. “It’s added a lot to the barn – clients, horses, wins. It was a good idea.”

The numbers reveal just how good a move it has been for the younger Gaudet. Through Tuesday, Gaudet’s runners have gone 30 for 159 (18 percent) and earned $793,624 – more money than the $666,749 her horses earned collectively over the previous nine years.

Gaudet won the $125,000 Claiming Crown Tiara with 6-1 shot Marabea and picked up a third-place check from John Jones in the $200,000 Jewel during her one-day visit to Gulfstream Park.

A day later, she was back home at Laurel Park to send out the 2-year-old maiden filly Star Touch. Running for a $25,000 tag after a pair of 10th-place finishes to begin her career, Star Touch opened up a three-length lead at the eighth pole under Kevin Gomez and held on to win by a neck, paying $36.40.

Since Nov. 4, Gaudet has been on a tear at Laurel, going 8 for 18 (44 percent), including a three-win day Nov. 6.

Gaudet, 28, comes from a family with strong ties to racing. Her dad, Eddie Gaudet, won 1,735 races as a trainer between 1959 and 2011 before retiring at age 81. Her mom, Linda, who was involved with show horses when she met her future husband in the 1950s, learned the business of training from Eddie over the course of 40 years and took over the stable when he retired. Lacey’s younger sister, 26-year-old Gabby, is an in-house television analyst and handicapper at Gulfstream Park during the winter and at Laurel the rest of the year.

Lacey recalls that she loved being around the track and initially wanted to become a jockey. Her ambitions changed, however, when she grew taller.

“Everyone in Maryland jokes that they remember me riding my dad’s shoulders when I was young. I was always by his side. I always wanted to be at the races,” Lacey Gaudet said. “When Gabby was playing soccer in school, I was home-schooled and rode the hunt meets and pony races when I was 13 and 14, and then started galloping. I rode a couple amateur races because I wanted to be a jockey. Being 5-8 or 5-9, it was a short-lived career.”

Lacey Gaudet worked for Helen Pitts at Gulfsteam and Allen Iwinski at Saratoga before returning to Maryland to work for her dad until he retired five years ago.

The biggest win of Lacey Gaudet’s career came last Saturday, when the 4-year-old Marabea, seventh at the eighth pole, rallied under Jose Lezcano and prevailed in a three-horse photo by a neck. Marabea was claimed for $25,000 at Saratoga on behalf of Farfellow Farm and won her first start for her new connections in a $25,000 Win and You’re In Claiming Crown qualifier at Laurel on Nov. 6.

Gaudet credited Lezcano, riding the British-bred filly for the first time, for remaining patient even after Marabea was ninth after the first six furlongs of the 1 1/16-mile turf race went in a pokey 1:15.57.

“I was nervous. She broke fine, but then they kind of came over on her,” Gaudet said. “I thought she was going to be in trouble, but you’ve got to be confident with a rider like Lezcano. He put her in the spot where he knew she needed to be, and he figured out the right moment and got there in time. He did a great job.”

Gaudet said she’s still learning about Marabea, who began her racing career in Italy and is now 3 for 9 since winning her U.S. debut at Delaware Park in July 2015.

“I’m not sure what kind of filly she is,” Gaudet said. “She’s a very, very nice filly. She clearly ran a race back to what she did last time. She could be any kind of filly.”