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Sunday, January 1, 2017

Auld Lang Syne field could not fight City Hall

East Rutherford, N.J. -- In the words of racecaller Ken Warkentin as City Hall ($5.00) entered the winner’s enclosure on New Year’s Eve, “You can’t stop him; you can only hope to contain him.”

Any way you look at it, there was no fighting City Hall in Saturday’s (Dec. 31) featured $35,000 Auld Lang Syne Invitational, as he stalked a hot pace from second-over before vaulting clear to a 2-1/4 length victory in 1:49.3.

Brett Miller floated the 6-year-old Metropolitan gelding into mid-division in the initial stages as Doctor Butch (Jim Marohn, Jr.) sprinted clear to control early splits of :26 and :54.3 over fast going. Approaching race’s midpoint, City Hall angled second-over behind the live cover of 33-time winner Clear Vision (Joe Bongiorno) and worked closer through the far turn before pointing three-wide off the far turn.

City Hall vaulted to the fore at the eighth pole and drew off smartly as Doctor Butch and Clear Vision dueled into defeat. Lucan Hanover (Vinny Ginsburg) rallied into second at 20-1 from third-over spotting, while 2014 Little Brown Jug winner Limelight Beach (Drew Monti) sustained a strong stand-side rally to narrowly claim third over his stablemate.

The win was City Hall’s fifth in a row after he used a :26 last quarter to evade top-level conditioned pacers in his last appearance on December 16. Amber Buter trains the now 33-time winner for Gene Oldford Farms and Tyler Buter.

New Year’s Eve Pick 5 pays $41k

Despite a 17-1 shot in So Take That being the longest-price winner in the sequence and a pair of favorites living up to their billing, the evening’s 50¢ Pick 5 returned $41,671.75 on the 3-6-10-8-4 combination, over 53 times the corresponding win parlay. Thisguysarockstar (5-1, Greg Merton), So Take That (17-1, Corey Callahan), Pickwick (4-5, Brett Miller), Dash of Danger (2-1, Merton), and Alberto Contador N (6-5, Marohn) proved victorious in the sequence.

Players combined to wager $2,473,933 on the 13-race card.

The 2017 season at the Big M kicks off Friday, January 6; post time is 7:15 p.m. Eastern.