Owner Peter Fuller finally made racing history of a positive nature today.
Fuller always will be remembered as the man whose colt, Dancer's Image, finished first in the 1968 Kentucky Derby but was disqualified because he had been treated with the then-illegal drug Butazolidin.
But at Belmont Park this afternoon, Fuller watched his filly, Mom's Command, lead all the way to win the Coaching Club American Oaks and complete a sweep of New York's Triple Crown series for fillies. To make the triumph even sweeter, the jockey was his daughter, Abigail.
None of her rivals had led Mom's Command in the first two legs of this series, the Acorn and Mother Goose Stakes, so it was no surprise when the 3-year-old filly went to the front again. But in order to outrun another speedster, Koluctoo's Jill, she had to run the first quarter mile in 22 4/5 seconds and the half-mile in :46 1/5 -- a suicidal pace at the 1 1/2-mile distance. (In the Belmont Stakes a month ago, the front-runners slowed after splits of :23 1/5 and :47.)
Mom's Command sped the first six furlongs in a breathtaking 1:10 3/5, at which point the bettors who had made her the 1-to-2 favorite probably were cursing Abigail Fuller and expecting the others to engulf her. It never happened.
Mom's Command was getting tired, but she increased her lead to seven lengths turning for home because none of her rivals was accelerating. In the stretch, Mom's Command ran the final quarter in a slow 28 4/5 seconds, but was able to hold a 2 1/2-length advantage over Bessarabian at the finish. Foxy Deen finished third.
Mom's Command's final time of 2:32 was the slowest since the Oaks has been run at this distance, but she nevertheless added her name to an illustrious list of Triple Crown winners -- Dark Mirage (1968), Shuvee (1969), Chris Evert (1974), Ruffian (1975) and Davona Dale (1979).
"This is quite an unbelievable thrill," Peter Fuller said. "She proved today that she can get a distance of ground as well as anyone, and I don't think a match race (with Spend a Buck) is out of the question."