Mom's Command, champion 3-year-old filly of 1985, was quietly euthanized in the early afternoon Feb. 3 at owner/breeder Peter Fuller's Runnymede Farm in North Hampton, N.H., due to increasing infirmities related to age.
The 25-year-old mare, pensioned from Meadow Haven and Three Chimneys Farms to the care of farm manager Lori Devenport since November 2004, will be interred at the farm.
"Mom's Command certainly enjoyed running with our other horses when she could, and was feisty at times," recalled Devenport. "People loved coming to see her periodically--taking her picture and asking for locks of hair. She's been a pleasure to be around, with that sparkle in her eye. I love her a lot."
Fuller planned the mating of the leggy chestnut filly, a member of the foal crop of 1982, with the idea of providing a combination of speed and stamina from sire Top Command out of the Pia Star mare Star Mommy (named after Fuller's wife Joan).
Trained by New England native Ned Allard and ridden in nine of her 11 wins from 16 races by Fuller's daughter Abigail, Mom's Command became just the sixth horse to win the New York Filly Triple Crown, with consecutive victories in the Acorn (gr. I), Mother Goose (gr. I), and Coaching Club American
Oaks (gr. I). The other Triple Crown winners prior to her--Dark Mirage (1968), Shuvee (1969), Chris Evert (1974), Ruffian (1975), and Davona Dale (1979)--were each enshrined in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N. Y. Of this group, only Shuvee and Mom's Command
went on to win the prestigious Alabama Stakes (gr. I), the filly counterpart of the Travers Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga.
Since then, Open Mind (1989) and Sky Beauty (1993) would also win the Triple Crown and Alabama, with Open Mind being put up to first in the Coaching Club due to the disqualification of Nite of Fun.
Mom's Command was inducted into the racing wing of the New England Sports Hall of Fame in the summer of 2006.
It is noteworthy that each of Mom's Command's 16 races (11 wins, two seconds, and a third) was contested in a stakes event, even her maiden win at Rockingham Park on July 17, 1984, in the Faneuil Miss Stakes at odds of 44-1. She won at distances ranging from five furlongs to 1 1/2-mile before her retirement Sept. 29, 1985, after wrenching her ankle while in training for the Rare Perfume Stakes at Belmont Park.
Additionally, she defeated every filly who ever finished in front of her, including the best of her generation such as Outstandingly, Fran's Valentine, and Lady's Secret. Mom's Command would rip the hearts out
of her competition, letting them get close on the turn, then rebreaking. In her Triple Crown sweep, she defeated 18 different fillies, none of which was closer than 2 1/2 lengths to her at the finish line.
As an added bonus to the elder Fuller, his daughter gained national notoriety for her heady rides during Mom Command's tour de force, fitting the star filly like a gloved hand. Abby Fuller, at 26-years-old, became the first woman jockey to ride the winner of a Triple Crown event, and also the first to sweep a Triple Crown. That took in six New York Filly Triple Crown winners at the time, 11 winners of the American Triple Crown, and 15 winners of the English Triple Crown, a total of 32 in all.
Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero Jr. would laud the performance of both of Fuller's homebred fillies, human and equine. Following Mom's Command's Triple Crown triumph, Cordero approached Peter Fuller, saying, "I love Mom's Command and I love your daughter Abby, but I'm sick of looking at both
of their rear ends."
In the breeding shed, Mom's command could not reproduce herself. Bred to many of the top stallions standing at stud, she had 15 foals, 10 winners, and one stakes winner.
Choking back obvious emotions, Abby reflected on her dear friend's passing. "I'm glad Ned (trainer Allard) and I got to see her today to feed her carrots and an apple, and just to be with her," said the mother of three. "She was so brilliant and special and I'm glad she could go peacefully and not suffer. She's been in great hands and well cared for. We're doing the right thing for her now."
Sportsman Peter Fuller picked up the thought. "From my point of view, I didn't see a pleasant future for 'Mom' and I didn't want to prolong something just because we'd like to have her around. She was very
special to me because she brought me back from a huge disappointment with the Dancer's Image disqualification from the Kentucky Derby win in 1968. And the fact that my daughter Abigail rode her was so great."
Allard was left to put things in perspective. "You don't realize how good they are until years later," said the veteran conditioner. "She was so good you almost forgot how good she was. And, on a yearly basis, you'll never forget Mom's Command. She was a great racehorse. Coming from New England, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I'd train a horse like Mom's Command."