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Horseman Peter Fuller dies at 89

May 15, 2012 at 4:35 PM   |   Comments

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BOSTON, May 15 (UPI) -- Peter Fuller, a New England car dealer who owned the only horse ever to be disqualified after winning the Kentucky Derby, has died. He was 89.

Fuller, the son of former Massachusetts Gov. Alvan Fuller, was also known for his contributions to the civil rights movement in Boston, The Boston Globe reported. In 1968, he donated a purse won by his horse, Dancer's Image, to Coretta Scott King after her husband was assassinated.

Dancer's Image was the source of Fuller's greatest triumph and failure. In 1968, the horse came from the last position to cross the finish line first at Churchill Downs, only to be stripped of the Kentucky Derby title because traces of a banned anti-inflammatory drug were found in its blood.

In 1974, the drug was removed from the banned list, but Fuller, in spite of lengthy appeals, never got the title back.

"The pain is real," Fuller told the Globe in 2008.

Fuller was born in a Boston mansion and graduated from Harvard. He lived much of his life in coastal New Hampshire with his wife, Joan, and their six daughters and son and bred horses at Runnymede Farm.

"Whenever we would take walks on the beach or anywhere else, and he saw people had littered, he would always pick it up," his daughter, Michelle, said. "He was so humble, he would pick up after other people because he hated not respecting the earth. Not many people know that the true measure of any person is how they are when no one's looking."

Fuller founded the Positive Program for Boston to help impoverished children. A successful amateur boxer as a young man, he appeared with Muhammad Ali in an exhibition match in 1977.

"If you dreamed you hit me, even one time, you had better wake up and apologize," Ali told Fuller as a crowd at Hynes Auditorium cheered.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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