Peter Fuller, the New England car dealer best known for owning 1968 disqualified Kentucky Derby winner Dancer’s Image, died May 14 after a lengthy illness. He was 89.
A homebred racing for Fuller, Dancer’s Image defeated Calumet Farm’s Forward Pass in the 94th renewal of the Derby on May 4, 1968, but was subsequently disqualified after he tested positive for the then-prohibited pain killer phenylbutazone in post-race testing.
The Kentucky State Racing Commission ordered Dancer’s Image disqualified and first-place money awarded to Forward Pass. Fuller filed legal action and received a favorable lower court verdict that was later overturned by the Kentucky Supreme Court.
Trainer Ned Allard, who was a friend and trained horses for Fuller for about 40 years, said he had the opportunity to see Fuller the week before he died at his home in New Hampshire.
“It was a great visit,” said Allard, noting that he and Fuller still had several horses they were managing together. “Not only was he a very loyal owner, but a good friend. Although he had other trainers during the time I trained for him, I had about 75 stakes horses for him. He was a pretty amazing guy. He did it his way.”
Fuller, who entered the Thoroughbred business in 1951, was also prominent on the national racing scene in 1985 when his homebred Mom’s Command swept the New York Filly Triple Crown and was voted an Eclipse Award as outstanding 3-year-old filly. As Mom’s Command embarked on her championship season, Fuller eschewed suggestions that he replace his daughter, Abby, as jockey in favor of more established and better known riders.
More recently, Fuller was represented by Trip for A. J., a filly who won seven stakes on the Florida circuit in 2010-11.
Fuller was inducted into the New England Turf Writers Association Hall of Fame in 2005, and in 1995 was awarded the organization’s Sam McCracken Award for lifetime contributions to New England racing.