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Fuller Family Hopes To Score in Florida Sunshine Millions
By Leona Velazquez
Watch a profile of Abigail Fuller by Jessica Pacheco at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1cVhVv2kbM&feature=youtu.be
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Peter Fuller’s homebred Trip for A.J. has earned the 88-year-old owner much success with her ten trips to the winners circle from 26 starts. But when the 5-year-old mare enters the gate on Saturday in the $150,000 Florida Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf, her trip could give Mr. Fuller a priceless reward. The daughter of Trippi will be ridden on Saturday by his daughter.
This will not be the first time the father and daughter have teamed up. The duo were extremely successful in 1985, when Abigail, then 25 years old, guided Fuller’s Mom’s Command to victory in New York’s Filly Triple Crown and the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes. A stakes victory together - 27 years later - would mean the world to both of them.
“When dad called me last fall and asked if I wanted to ride her I said ‘YES,’ ” said Fuller. “I just love her. She’s very game, a thrill to ride. This is such an amazing opportunity for us.”
Abigail is not only surprised at the opportunity to ride for her father but also at the chance to ride at all. After winning almost 600 races in the 1980’s and 1990’s, Abigail was away from riding for over 10 years. She was asked to participate in the Lady’s Legend race last year and she accepted. The race was run at Pimlico Race Course the day before the Preakness. Abigail finished second.
“I had a ball, but I was amazed at how good I felt,” Fuller said. “I had been galloping for Rick Violette at Palm Meadows.”
Fuller decided to take a course, Equine Guided Education, in Northern California. It was a four week program that focused on the communication between horse and jockey. Also trying to stay fit, Fuller takes care of and gallops Trip for A.J.’s half sister, A.J.’s Hot Mambo. The filly’s regular rider, P.J. Lydon, got injured last year and Fuller made the decision to ride the filly herself.
“It just fell into my lap,” commented Fuller. “I thought, well, I should ride this filly. I do everything with her. So, I rode her and she won. It was great and my kids were there (two daughters and a son).
“I also think the course helped me with the filly,” added Fuller. “She’s a feisty one. She can be challenging. So it has given me an interesting perspective in my riding now.”
Since A.J.’s Hot Mambo’s victory at Calder, Fuller was offered other mounts at Calder and found herself back in the game. On Thanksgiving, she guided Trip for A.J. to a second place finish in the My Charmer Handicap (G3) at Calder. The chestnut mare stumbled at the start and was beaten a neck in the 1 1/8th mile event.
“She was a little farther back in that race,” said Fuller. “The pace was slower than we expected but I managed to get up the rail and save every inch of ground we could. She dug in gamely.”
Trip for A.J.’s last start of 2011 came in the 7 ½ furlong South Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The Trippi mare raced off the pace, made a late move, and was third beaten a length and a quarter.
“The seven and a half (furlongs) is on the shorter side for her,” Fuller said. “We were in a little traffic and didn’t get in the clear until late. She ran hard.”
Fuller, who recorded her first ever Gulfstream Park victory Jan. 15 aboard Rule Number Six, is hoping Trip for A.J. can bring her total number of victories closer to 600.
As for the chestnut mare, trainer Milt Wolfson has two solid breezes into her, a mile in 1:42 on Jan. 7 and three eighths in :35.4 on Jan. 18, both at Calder Race Course.