02/17/2004 12:00AM

Catalano, Calabrese split

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The owner Frank Calabrese and trainer Wayne Catalano, a dominant partnership on the Chicago racing circuit, have parted company. Pat Cuccurullo will train Calabrese's horses in Chicago, while Catalano has plans to train 60 horses for a partnership named Turf Express Inc.

Mark Cornett, one of two partners in Turf Express, said Catalano would have 30-horse strings at Mountaineer Park and Arlington when the operation was fully established.

This is the third time Catalano and Calabrese have severed a business relationship, but this parting is surprising, given the operation's recent success. Calabrese has been Chicago's leading owner for the last several years, while Catalano has won three of the last four training titles at Arlington.

Both Catalano and Calabrese said they had differences about how various phases of the operation should function. Catalano took a string of horses to winter at Gulfstream Park, and the relationship between the two apparently began fraying during the last couple of months.

Most of Calabrese's Florida-based horses have returned to Chicago, but three will stay in Florida with trainer Peter Walder. Calabrese hired Cuccurullo as a second trainer last month, and the pair had success during the Hawthorne meet last fall and winter. Calabrese said Cuccurullo would train 50 to 60 horses for him at Hawthorne and Arlington.