Ciuffetelli and Hechkoff win NAADA Trots at Freehold

by John Manzi for NAADA

Monticello, NY — With an explosion of amateur racing gaining credibility among the racing fans and dotting the programs at many racetracks, the North American Amateur Drivers Association is currently staging a 12-race Fall Trotting Series at four east coast raceways.

The first leg was presented at Freehold Raceway on Saturday (Sept. 5). Then, on a weekly basis, events will follow at Saratoga, Monticello and Yonkers Raceways and culminate in a $15,000 final at Yonkers on Dec. 3.

On Saturday afternoon at Freehold Raceway two $5,000 divisions were contested with Tony Ciuffetelli and Bob Hechkoff each emerging victorious in their respective splits with the former winning with Tagmaster in a time of 2:02.3 while the latter scored with Alternat Thursdays in 2:00.

Tagmaster, a 12-year-old altered son of Tagliabue, a mid-August purchase from Bob Hechkoff’s R.H.B. Ventures by Tony Ciuffetelli, battled valiantly to score a one length triumph over Blazin Delores and driver Jimmy Marshall IV. Pembroke Snapshot finished a close third for Bob Hechoff who was subbing for an ill Hannah Miller.

Hechkoff and Pembroke Snapshot cut the fractions only to be overtaken by Tagmaster as they rounded the final turn and then they succumbed to second place finisher Blazin Delores just before the wire.

It was Tagmaster’s second start for Ciuffetelli after his purchase on August 18. Prior to mid-August, Tagmaster was a pleasurable and rewarding drive for more than two years for Hechkoff. The trotter won more than 20 times while the property of Hechkoff’s R.H.B. Ventures.

It was Tagmaster’s first victory for Ciuffetelli and the trotter’s 63rd lifetime win. He returned a $15.60 mutuel. For Ciuffetelli, a trucker and part-time trainer, it marked his 24th career driving victory.

In the second NAADA split Hechkoff sent Alternat Thursdays to the lead from the two hole and, as usual, took no prisoners. They sailed through fractions of :28.2, :58.2 and 1:28.2 and finished a four length winner over Hallanet and driver Paul Minore. Gimme The Loot was third for Bobby Krivelin.

Alternat Thursdays has been racing for Hechkoff since he purchased the veteran trotter in late May. It was their second victory together and the 37th career win for the 9-year-old Andover Hall gelding. Sent off as the betting favorite, Alternat Thursdays paid $5.60 for win.

Enjoying his best season in the sulky, Hechkoff, a headhunter by trade, notched his 15th win and 69th since joining the amateur ranks in 2000.

Hannah Miller, the leading amateur driver this year with 22 wins, was noticeably absent from the NAADA action at Freehold Raceway.

“She’s been in hospital for two days with some problems — home this afternoon but very weak and couldn’t drive — all good and she should be back driving in the Billings Monday at Plainridge (Racecourse),” her boyfriend Nick Surick said via e-mail.

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