This is the final entry of my 4 part series to provide thoroughbred horse racing fans a glimpse at the four (4) candidates the Maryland Jockey Club (MJC) has selected to be Frank Carulli’s replacement as the on-air television host during Laurel Park and Pimlico Meets. If you read “Part 1”, feel free to skip down to “Now let’s meet…”. If not, the candidates are Ryan Fogelsonger, Dylan Smith, Jacqueline “Jackie” Savoye and Gabrielle “Gabby” Gaudet. Kudos to MJC for seeking to allure the “Gen Y” crowd as the average age of these four finalists for the job is 25½.
Since 2002, Carulli has been the Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park handicapper and racing analyst, but will leave MJC at the conclusion of the Pimlico spring meet (June 8th), relocating to Las Vegas. Considered one of the best in the business in making the Morning Line (Odds), those duties will be handed over to Equibase chart caller Keith Feustle, when live racing resumes in September at Laurel Park. Feustle can be seen on the “Today At The Races” pre-race show on the Maryland simulcast signal with his co-host, track announcer Dave Rodman.
The brain-trust at MJC decided to give each candidate the opportunity to showcase their talent on-air as part of the interview process. So this week (March 20-23) at Laurel Park, each has one day to prove themselves worthy of filling Carulli’s shoes. Gabby Gaudet gets the final on-air say Saturday (Mar. 23rd) as the other 3 preceded her this week. Ryan Fogelsonger did the duties on Wednesday (Mar. 20th), Dylan Smith followed suit on Thursday (Mar. 21st) and Jackie Savoye provided her insight on Friday (Mar. 22nd).
This past Saturday at Laurel Park, I spent a few moments with each of the contenders, to get to know a bit more about them, so I could introduce them to you. All were very impressive and enthusiastic to face the on-air challenge ahead of them. One shared, “It’s kind of weird, this live on-air audition and knowing the other applicants that you’re up against for the job. It feels like American Idol”.
Not quite American Idol because the decision on who will be hired as the new on-air racing analyst is solely an internal (MJC) one. There will be no fan voting, but your feedback is welcomed and should be directed to Mike Gathagan, MJC’s V.P. of Communications at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I don’t envy the MJC decision-makers. It will certainly be a tough call. I wonder if they would entertain a co-host format? It seems to work at other tracks having two people banter about versus one speaking directly into the camera. Just food for thought.
Now let’s meet…
… Gabby Gaudet, the 22-year-old daughter of longtime conditioners Eddie and Linda Gaudet and younger sister of trainer Lacey Gaudet, is on track (no pun intended) to graduate this Spring from Towson University, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication with a minor in Graphic Design.
When your last name is immediately associated with Maryland racing, it’s only natural to feel the pressure to be involved in the family business. ”My Mom and Dad have definitely been extremely influential in my life, not only in horse racing but growing up in general. When I was younger, my Mom home schooled me and my sister throughout middle school, in between the hectic demands of (horse) training. I decided to go back to (a traditional) school for 8th grade, got my exercise riders license when I was 16 to help my parents out during the weekends and summer vacation, and I continued to do that as a part-time job throughout college”, explained Gabby.
Riding horses wasn’t her only athletic talent. Gabby was quite the soccer player and received offers from multiple D-1 schools, but home was where her heart was, which opened doors to combine her college major with her love for horses. “I would say that last winter was really the turning point for me when I decided to get really involved, especially in the media side of horse racing. I began interning for Maryland Horse Radio on Tuesday nights, contributing to Maryland Horse newsletters and participated in a lot of events throughout Preakness season”, recalled Gaudet as she reached into her memory bank of accomplishments.
Stepping out of the shadows of being Lacey’s “little sister” as well as her comfort zone (Maryland), Gabby was able to establish her own identity in New York. “This past summer I got the opportunity of a lifetime to move to Saratoga for the meet and write for The Saratoga Special newspaper. There, I made some really great racing contacts and got to experience racing from a new perspective. I had to interview trainers, owners and jockeys daily and then write articles on them (e.g. pre-stakes/post-stakes interviews, race recaps, and human interest stories). I loved every minute of it”, then added with a snicker, “When my sister (Lacey) came up to visit, people were referring to her as, Gabby’s big sister”.
Recently the petite brunette spoke with ESPN/ABC Sports reporter Jeannine Edwards about facing the camera, saying “Jeannine gave me some really good advice… I can provide my personal insights. The way I see it is that every horse, every trainer, every race has a story. For example, some may look at the program and see a horse that has been laid off for 6 months and wonder why? Having a journalistic background, I‘ll find out as much information about the “story” and report it to the fans”.
Admittedly, when this 55-year-old @HorseRacingNut read about Frank Carulli’s planned departure via MJC’s MArch 13th press release, I was miffed that the conditions of this competition seemed, to use a horse racing term, “restricted”. Quickly convincing myself that ol’ GQ was about 30 years too old to be considered for the on-air Racing Analyst position, and couldn’t agree more with Gabby who stated, “I love that the MJC is getting young people into the sport. I really think it’s a great idea. I’m very passionate about horse racing and I want to bring all ages and all backgrounds (as many people as possible) in and show them what makes this sport so special”.
To describe Gabby Gaudet in one word, it would be Charm. She possesses an infectious smile that can light up a room. Not a bad quality to have when thousands of horseplayers will be hanging on every word you utter before they head to the betting window.