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Friday, December 30, 2016

Auld Lang Syne headlines New Year’s Eve at Big M

by James Witherite, Meadowlands racing media

East Rutherford, N.J. – A full field of ten pacers—three of them millionaires—will contest the $35,000 Auld Lang Syne Invitational on New Year’s Eve (Sat., Dec. 31) at The Meadowlands.

Trainer Ron Burke’s pair of Limelight Beach and Clear Vision have been installed as the 5-2 favored entry on the morning line. Limelight Beach, the 2014 Little Brown Jug winner, earned top-level wins at both Saratoga and Dover in recent weeks while most recently just missing Mach It So in an Open at Yonkers. Drew Monti, who just scored his first Meadowlands driving win on Thursday night, assumes the driving assignment on the 5-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding. His entrymate Clear Vision boasts over $2.5 million in career earnings, and he returns to East Rutherford after capturing the first race of the fall-winter meet in gritty first-over fashion. The 10-year-old Western Hanover gelding seeks his fourth win of the year, and Joe Bongiorno will be at the lines.

Among those looking to topple the Burke duo are the rapidly-rising City Hall (Brett Miller, 6-1), who reeled off four straight Big M wins while climbing the class ladder; millionaire Doctor Butch (Jim Marohn, Jr., 8-1), who rises markedly off a 1:50.1 score; Lucan Hanover (Vinny Ginsburg, 7-2), a winner of two Levy preliminaries in March and 27 races in his career; and National Seelster (John Campbell, 8-1), who prevailed in a hard-fought 1:50.3 mile after leaving from post 10 in his last.

In the sub-featured $15,000 top-level conditioned/optional claiming pace, Betty Tauber’s Elrama N seeks a fourth straight win and second straight at the level after sustaining a first-over push to the fore and parrying El Bloombito’s late charge to prevail in 1:51.4 last week. The Michael Russo trainee remains at the level via the optional $50,000 tag, and Corey Callahan is back aboard the 5-2 morning line favorite.

Fans on-track can pad their bankrolls in the Win Your Share of $2,016 giveaway, and enjoy a special buffet dinner in Pink, complete with a champagne toast and fireworks display to ring in the new year. Horsemen are invited to a New Year’s Eve party in the skyboxes, courtesy Allerage Farms.

Post time for the first of 13 races is slated for 7:15 p.m. Eastern.