07/13/2005 11:00PM

Runnymede's third trophy horse


EAST BOSTON - After Senor Ladd was crowned horse of the year by the New England Turf Writers Association last week, Runnymede Farm in North Hampton, N.H., could boast about being the home of three of the region's champions, joining former horses of the year Mom's Command and Gander.

The 10-acre boarding facility was once owned by Peter Fuller, the man most racing fans in the country think of when they hear about the game in New England - Fuller's horse Dancer's Image remains the only runner ever to be disqualified from a first-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, because of a disputed positive postrace test in 1968. Fuller and his daughter, jockey Abby Fuller, guided Mom's Command to win New York's filly triple crown series, the Alabama, and an Eclipse Award in 1985. Fuller went into the New England Hall of Fame last week, and Mom's Command has perennially been nominated to the national Hall of Fame.

With developers looming and Fuller cutting back his involvement, he turned to longtime farm assistant Lori Devenport to take over the operation. Devenport and her husband, Brett, bought the property five years ago.

"We just knew it was too nice a place to let it become houses," said Devenport. "The ocean is just a mile down the road, and Mr. Fuller still stops by every day to pick up his goats milk and to see 'Mom.' "

While Fuller did most of his breeding in Kentucky or Florida, he started out in the business at Runnymede. John Shirreffs, trainer of this year's Derby winner, Giacomo, grew up in the area, and Shirreffs's father bred horses at Runnymede in the 1960's.

Gander moved to Runnymede last month after retiring from a 60-race career because of a leg injury. The third-leading New York-bred earner of all time, behind Funny Cide and Say Florida Sandy, Gander raced for Mike and Ted Gatsas of Manchester and won the James B. Moseley New England Horse of the Year award in 2000. He also won the Grade 2 Meadowlands Cup and Empire Classic in 2001.

"Gander and Mom's Command share the paddock, because they don't want him running around too much," said Devenport. "She's kind of slow at her age, and she keeps [Gander] from going too fast while he recovers from his problems.

"He's still got some of that racetrack mentality, but he seems to be having a good time."

Senor Ladd returned to Runnymede on Friday after having arthroscopic surgery on his left front sesamoid. Senor Ladd will need four to six weeks to recover before owner Joseph Laliberte evaluates his potential racing career. If Senor Ladd doesn't go back to the track, Devenport said she is sure he will have a bright future.

"He's just such a good-looking horse that I'm sure he would make a valuable show horse prospect," she said.

* Milky Way Guy, who won his third career Turf Writers trophy last Thursday, scored a 1 3/4-length turf win in his 2005 debut Tuesday at Suffolk Downs. Owned by Yasou Stable Trust, Milky Way Guy won for the 15th time.

* Jockey Clifford Dooley returned to the Suffolk winner's circle Wednesday for the first time in two years after winning aboard Deputy's Reward in race 9.