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Calabrese The Sport's Hottest Amateur

Published: April 17, 2021 5:53 pm ET

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An old adage says “when you're hot you're hot” and no amateur driver is hotter than John Calabrese. Not only did he win both divisions of the American Harness Drivers Club trots today (April 17) at Freehold Raceway but he won an amateur contest last night at The Meadowlands and he's now had five wins (and four seconds) in his last 10 trips behind the starting gate.

He started his afternoon in the Garden State with a solid 2-1/4 length 2:00.1 triumph with Ooh Rah in the third race and then came back two races later to score a one-length victory Shoemaker Hanover in the identical time of 2:00.1.

In the first AHDC contest Calabrese left softly from post five and fell in second as Bob Hechkoff led the field by the first stanza with Pound Sterling in :29.1. With open lengths on the field Hechkoff and his trotter cruised by the halfway point and remained unchallenged until the backstretch where Todd Whitney made a big move with longshot King Cast, but by the three quarters he was rebuffed which gave room to Ooh Rah. Calabrese then waited until the top of the lane to rally his charge and once they had clearance it was game over as the veteran Credit Winner gelding went on to an easy triumph. Paul Minore rallied If I Must home second best, a head better than Pound Sterling.

The winner, an altered son of Credit Winner, is owned by Kathleen and Donald La Montagne and trained by Kathleen LaMontagne. Sent away as the 1-2 favourite Ooh Rah paid $3.00 for win.

Calabrese came back in the fifth race to score another come from behind triumph, this time with Shoemaker Hanover.

After starting from the four-hole Calabrese floated softly away from the gate and was sixth at the quarter some seven lengths off the leaders, Inukchuk Chuck and driver Mark Schullstrum.

As the field headed to the half Bob Hechkoff moved Southwind Frost off the pylons and Calabrese followed that cover, with both trotters moving up closer to the leaders. Inukchuk Chuck still had command when they straightened for home but in the lane Shoemaker Hanover was the strongest horse and he forged to the front to be the first one home. Southwind Frost won the place photo over Inukchuk Chuck.

The winner, an eight-year-old stallion by Cantab Hall, is owned and trained by Tracy Tarantino. Sent off as the odds-on favourite he paid $3.00 for win.

Thus far this season Calabrese is a clear candidate for Amateur Driver of the Year. He now has eight wins, six seconds and four thirds in 28 starts for a .464 UDR.


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