Clarcam, an overseas invader coming off a stunning upset victory in the Galway Plate Steeplechase, has been installed as the 158-pound highweight for Saratoga Race Course’s $175,000 New York Turf Writers Handicap next Thursday.
Entries will be taken and post positions will be drawn on Sunday for the 2 3/8-mile New York Turf Writers, the marquee jump race of the Saratoga season.
Trained in Ireland by Gordon Elliott, Clarcam has been sold to American interests, Rosbrian Farm and Ben and Wendy Griswold. Rosbrian and the Griswolds also campaign Zanjabeel, the current leading earner on the jump-racing circuit and formerly trained by Elliott.
An eight-year-old French-bred, Clarcam got away at 33-to-1 in the €250,000 Thetote.com Galway Plate Steeplechase on Aug. 1, 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.
Also nominated by County Meath-based Elliott was The Game Changer, who now is owned by the Rosbrian operation of Mandy and George Mahoney. The nine-year-old Irish-bred was unplaced in his last two starts but had an allowance hurdle win in June. He was assigned 150 pounds, second in the weights.
Sharing the 150-pound assignment are another Rosbrian nominee, Optimus Prime, and Buttonwood Farm’s All the Way Jose, a Grade 1 winner last year.
Optimus Prime, now trained by Ricky Hendriks, would be making his first U.S. start. The six-year-old was a three-time winner in the 2017-2018 British jump-racing season for trainer Dan Skelton.
Trained by Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard, All the Way Jose won Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) last September but is winless this year. He most recently finished fifth in Saratoga’s $175,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) on July 30.
Mark W. Buyck Jr.’s Show Court, the one-length winner of the Smithwick Memorial at 2 1/16 miles, was assigned 148 pounds as he stretches out for trainer Arch Kingsley Jr.
Hudson River Farms’ Iranistan, a Sheppard-trained four-year-old who sustained his first career jumps defeat in the Smithwick Memorial, was assigned 145 pounds.
Armata Stables’ New Member and Magalen O. Bryant’s Personal Start share the 144-pound assignment. Jack Fisher-trained New Member won Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 25, and Personal Start won the Virginia Gold Cup’s David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) before finishing fourth in the Smithwick. Richard Valentine trains the Bryant homebred.
Weighted at 140 was Woodslane Farm’s Overwhelming, who also is trained by Fisher and finished third in the Smithwick Memorial.
Here are the nine nominees to the $175,000 New York Turf Writers Cup in the order of their weight assignments, which are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
Clarcam (Fr). 2019 b. g., Califet (Fr)—Rose Beryl, by Lost World. Owners: Rosbrian Farm and Ben and Wendy Griswold. Trainer: Gordon Elliott. Breeder: 1m. 1Jean Michel & 2m. 1 Dominique Le Breton. 2018 NSA record: No starts. In most recent start, won €250,000 Galway Plate Steeplechase by six lengths at 33-to-1 odds. Unplaced in two previous 2018 starts, 11th in Guinness Handicap and in Randox Health Topham Steeplechase. Durable steeplechaser would be making his 48th career start and seeking his 11th win. (158)
All the Way Jose. 2010 b. g., Senor Swinger—Maternity Leave, by Northern Baby. Owner: Buttonwood Farm. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Breeder: Jonathan Sheppard (Pa.) 2018 record: 3-0-0-0, $ 10,750. 2017 record: 7-2-1-3, $179,300. Finished distant fifth in 2018 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1). Began 2018 with third in Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2) at Middleburg Spring, then fell in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1). Won 2017 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). Finished third in Grand National (Gr. 1), beaten two noses. Won Fair Hill’s $40,000 Valentine Memorial ratings handicap by 15 1/4 lengths, then lost rider in A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) and was third in New York Turf Writers (Gr. 1). Novice champion in 2014. (150)
Optimus Prime (Fr). 2012 b. g., Deportivo—Diluvienne, by Kaldoun. Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Breeder: Haras de Plasence (Fr). 2018 NSA record: No starts. Making his U.S. debut after fourth in Pertemps Swindon Hurdle Handicap at Haydock in May. Began 2018 with an allowance steeplechase win and then was second at 25-to-1 in €115,000 Ryanair Novice Steeplechase at Ireland’s Punchestown Racecourse in April. Previously trained by Dan Skelton. (150)
The Game Changer (Ire). 2009 b. g., Arcadio—Gilt Ridden, by Heron Island. Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Gordon Elliott. Breeder: Arctic Tack Stud and Crossogue Stud (Ire). 2018 NSA record: No starts. In early August 2018, unseated jockey in Lord Hemphill Memorial Handicap Steeplechase and pulled up early in €300,000 Guinness Galway Handicap Hurdle. Won an Irish allowance hurdle in June and finished second in a steeplechase allowance in July. (150)
Show Court (Ire). 2009 b. g., Vinnie Roe—Sparking Gem, by Revoque. Owner: Mark W. Buyck Jr. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. Breeder: Grange Stud (Ire). 2018 record: 2-0-0-0, $109,500. 2017 NSA record: 5-2-1-0, $112,000. Won Saratoga’s 2018 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) by a length. Finished sixth in Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) after chasing winning pacesetter. Finished sixth in Saratoga’s 2017 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) after winning Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Won 2017 Carolina Cup by seven lengths, then finished second in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase. Finished distant fifth in Iroquois’ Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle. Won maiden over hurdles in Ireland in late 2015. (148)
Iranistan. 2014 dk. b. or br. g., Einstein (Brz)—Miss Vindictive, by Stephen Got Even. Owner: Hudson River Stables. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Breeder: Crossed Sabres Farm (Ky.) 2018 NSA record: 4-3-1-0, $127,500. Finished game second in Saratoga’s 2018 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1). Won 2018 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle for novices by six lengths. Skipped maiden ranks and won allowance hurdles at Carolina Cup and Middleburg Spring to begin 2018 season. Scored maiden flat victory at Delaware Park in July 2018. (145)
New Member (Ire). 2011 b. g., Alhaarth (Ire)—Sincere, by Buhhare. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Golden Garden Stud. 2018 NSA record: 4-1-0-2, $63,000. 2017 NSA record: 4-0-1-2, $28,500. Won Saratoga’s 2018 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths. Began 2018 with thirds in Carolina Cup and Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase, then was sixth in Iroquois’ Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle. Finished second in Belmont Park’s 2017 William Entenmann Novice Stakes after well-beaten third in Saratoga’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes. Finished third in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Finished good third in Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes but disqualified for going off-course in tight quarters. Had allowance and handicap wins in England in 2016. (144)
Personal Start. 2011 dk. b. or br. g., Jump Start—Personal Doreen, by Personal Flag. Owner: Magalen O. Bryant. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Breeder: Magalen O. Bryant (Ky.) 2018 record: 3-2-0-0, $98,750. 2017 record: 6-1-1-2, $46,750. Finished fourth in Saratoga’s 2018 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1).Won Virginia Gold Cup’s 2018 David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) by eight lengths after victory in Carolina Cup novice stakes. Won 2017 International Gold Cup allowance hurdle by eight lengths. Finished third in 2017 Saratoga allowance hurdle, then was second in Shawan Downs handicap and fourth in Virginia Fall’s Randolph D. Rouse Memorial Handicap. (144)
Overwhelming. 2010 b. g., Hard Spun—Oh What a Windfall, by Seeking the Gold. Owner: Woodslane Farm. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Phipps Stable (Ky.) 2018 NSA record: 3-1-0-1, $34,000. 2016 record: 4-0-0-0, $9,250. 2015 record: 6-3-1-0, $136,300. Finished third in Saratoga’s 2018 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1). Returned to the races after missing 2017 season and won Tryon Block House allowance hurdle before sixth in Fair Hill’s Valentine Memorial ratings handicap. Finished fifth in Saratoga’s 2016 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1). Won Steeplechase at Callaway’s 2015 AFLAC Supreme Hurdle and Belmont’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes. (140)