12/16/2003 1:00AM

Jeanne Vance dies at 68

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Jeanne Vance, a horse owner who campaigned champion Lemon Drop Kid with her late husband Milton "Laddie" Dance, died Monday at her home in Manalapan, Fla. She was 68.

A devoted horsewoman, Vance showed Saddlebred horses as a teenager while growing up in Detroit and owned Thoroughbred horses for more than 30 years, principally in partnership with Dance, who died last year at age 76. Dance was one of the most prominent auctioneers in Thoroughbred history.

Vance and Dance met at an auction in 1963. The couple divorced in 1987, but remarried in 1995.

Lemon Drop Kid was the couple's most accomplished horse. He was voted champion older horse in 2000 after winning the Woodward, Whitney, Suburban, and Brooklyn handicaps, all in New York.

In 1999, as a 3-year-old, Lemon Drop Kid won the Belmont and the Travers stakes. The horse now stands at Lane's End Farm in Kentucky for a fee of $50,000 live foal.

After Dance recovered from throat cancer in the late 1960's, Vance and Dance established the Milton J. Dance Jr. Head and Neck Rehabilitation Center at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center. Earlier this year, Vance donated $500,000 to build a playground at Anna House, a child-care organization at Belmont Park.