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Prominent Irish trainer Gordon Elliott gave the thumbs up after Zanjabeel won the Far Hills Races' Foxbrook Champion Hurdle last October. (Tod Marks photo)

Saratoga Race Course celebrates Irish-American Day on Wednesday, and the flavor of Ireland continues Thursday when leading Irish trainer Gordon Elliott saddles two battle-hardened contenders in the track’s premier steeplechase race, the $175,000 New York Turf Writers Handicap (Gr. 1.)

The 2 3/8-mile New York Turf Writers will be the first race on Thursday’s program with a 1 p.m. post time.

Elliott’s contenders, Clarcam and The Game Changer, will have new ownership for the New York Turf Writers and are destined to remain in the U.S. for the National Steeplechase Association’s fall championship season.

Both previously owned by Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud, Clarcam now is owned by Rosbrian Farm and Wendy and Ben Griswold, while The Game Changer is owned solely by the Rosbrian operation of Mandy and George Mahoney. Rosbrian and the Griswolds also own current leading earner Zanjabeel, who formerly was trained by Elliott.

Clarcam, a French-bred eight-year-old who carries the 158-pound highweight, is coming off a stunning 33-to-1 upset in the €250,000 Thetote.com Galway Plate Steeplechase on Aug. 1, when he opened a gaping lead and won by six lengths. A veteran of 47 prior races with 10 wins, Clarcam has earned more than $600,000.

The Game Changer, a nine-year-old Irish-bred, has 57 starts and has earned more than $400,000. He was unplaced in his two most recent starts but won an allowance hurdle in June. Davy Roberts rides Clarcam, and Mark Enright will be aboard The Game Changer for County Meath-based Elliott.

The Game Changer shares the 150-pound second highweight with Rosbrian’s Optimus Prime, also making his first U.S. start, and Buttonwood Farm’s All the Way Jose, a 2017 Grade 1 winner trained by Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard. Ross Geraghty rides Optimus Prime, a multiple steeplechase allowance winner, and current leading jockey Jack Doyle gets his first ride on All the Way Jose, who finished fifth in Saratoga’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) on July 30.

Sheppard also will saddle Hudson River Farms’ Iranistan, who sustained his first career jumps defeat in the Smithwick Memorial. The four-year-old Einstein gelding again will be ridden by Darren Nagle.

Handing Iranistan his first loss was Mark W. Buyck’s Show Court, who edged away to win by a length. Trained by Arch Kingsley Jr. and ridden by Michael Mitchell, Show Court carries 148 pounds in the handicap, one pound more than Iranistan.

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Who’s the ‘Boss’: Boss Man rules in Saratoga allowance

Bill and Carrington Price's Boss Man gave trainer Arch Kingsley and jockey Michael Mitchell a delightful follow-up to their score with Show Court in the G1 AP Smithwick, by taking a $65,000 allowance race at the Spa on Aug. 1. Racing on the lead for most of the contest, the 8-year-old son of turf ace English Channel helps off Serendipity Stables' Dark Gemini by a little more than 2 lengths. Boss Man broke his maiden last spring at the Queens Cup Steeplechase, an NSA meet run by the Price's. The gelding was sent off at odds of 9-5, third choice in the field. Tod Marks has the photo recap.

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