'Free Willy' Steals The Spotlight In Saratoga Open Trot

Free Willy Hanover winning at Saratoga Casino Hotel

Free Willy Hanover and driver Chris Long stalked the field mid-pack throughout every panel before pulling wide in the stretch to swoop the group and win the Open Handicap Trot at the wire, collecting the winner's share of the $20,548 purse on the Sunday afternoon, April 14 card at Saratoga Casino Hotel.

Long and the Robyn Mangiardi student got away fourth as Discus Hanover (Jim Devaux) and Cash Me Out (Mitch Cushing) battled for early contention as the race leader. Discus Hanover was the first to click the opening panel in :28.2 before settling on the lead along the pylons. He continued on top through panels in :58.3 and 1:27.4 while followed by Cash Me Out in the pocket and a parked-out Malibu Kid (Larry Stalbaum). Free Willy Hanover continued in fifth from the half and into the final turn. Long pulled his right line and, with a :29.1 final quarter split, Free Willy Hanover stretched around the duelling leaders to win by a half-length in 1:57.4. Discus Hanover had to settle for second and Malibu Kid held on for the show spot.

Mangiardi co-owns the 11-year-old son of Credit Winner-Free Spirit with Richard Cortese and Donald Eccleston. In 261 career starts, the gelding has earned a record of 40-45-46 with $905,129 banked. He earned his second victory of the season in seven starts. Off at 5-1 odds, Free Willy Hanover returned a $12.20 win payout.

Mangiardi enjoyed a training double on the card and Long scored a driving hat trick. Brett Beckwith posted a driving grand slam.

(With files from Saratoga Casino Hotel)

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