01/17/2002 1:00AM

John Gaver Jr. is dead at 61

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - John Gaver Jr., former trainer of Greentree Stables and more recently a steward at Hialeah Park, died in Hollywood, Fla., on Tuesday. He was 61.

Gaver succeeded his father, Hall of Fame trainer John Gaver Sr., as trainer at Greentree in 1966. He won two Eclipse Awards in his 15 years at Greentree, with older female champion Late Bloomer in 1978 and male turf horse Bowl Game in 1979. Among Gaver's other graded stakes winners for Greentree were Hatchet Man, Woodchopper, Johnny Appleseed, and Buckaroo.

Gaver is survived by sons John Milton Gaver III and Louis Haggin Gaver. A funeral service is scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Lexington Cemetery, Lexington, Ky.