Report: Fifty Years Later, Questions Remain About Dancer’s Image Bute Overage

Fifty years after he crossed the Kentucky Derby wire first aboard Dancer’s Image, the horse’s connections say they’re still confused about the phenylbutazone positive that resulted in the only Derby disqualification in history.

At the time, Thoroughbred Racing Commentary reported, bute was only detectable by testing for about two days after administration. Abigail Fuller, daughter of the horse’s owner Peter Fuller, said Dancer’s Image had a sensitive stomach and could not have been given the drug within two days of race time; the medication gave the horse loose manure and would have resulted in dehydration, so there was no question of them trying to administer close to the race. Ussery remembers the horse getting his last dose of bute on Sunday, nearly a week before the Derby.

Abigail Fuller wondered at the time whether the horse may have been sabotaged as a result of her father’s politics. Peter Fuller was a deep believer in civil rights and earlier in 1968 had given his portion of the purse from one of Dancer’s Image’s prep races to Coretta Scott King following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the end, Calumet Farm runner-up Forward Pass was named the winner of the 1968 Derby. Abigail Fuller and Ussery told TRC they still think of the ’68 Derby as belonging to their horse.

Read more at Thoroughbred Racing Commentary

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