05/23/2002 11:00PM

Man killed in fall from horse van

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Eugene W. Grant, a horse attendant for the Ebert Van Company, fell to his death from a van that was traveling on the New Jersey Turnpike on Wednesday.

Grant, a resident of Sea Cliff, N.Y., was 66.

The van was on its way to Belmont Park when Grant, who formerly worked as a driver for Ebert, leaned against the back door and it suddenly opened, according to the New Jersey State Police. A spokesman for Ebert had no further details.

Grant, a popular figure on the backstretch in New York who was nicknamed "Mousey," once worked for trainer Howie Tesher.

"He's a terrific legend around the track," Tesher said Friday. "He was quite a character; always laughing. Everyone has a memory or a story about him."

A mass for Grant will be held Tuesday at 1 p.m. at the recreation center on Belmont's backstretch.

Grant is survived by his wife, Mary; son Harry; and brother Phil, a driver for Ebert.