Six steeplechase grade I winners head the field for the richest jump race of the spring season, Friday's $159,000 Royal Chase (NSA-I) at Keeneland.
The race lured eight entries, all of them threats to win the 2 1/2 mile closing day feature.
Despite making his first hurdle start in almost a year Augustin Stable's Praise The Prince, a multiple stakes winner with $386,342 in career jump earnings, was installed as the 9-5 morning line favorite. The New Zealand-bred, trained by Sanna Hendriks, won two-thirds of the Steeplechase Triple Crown in 2001 and led all steeplechasers in earnings that season. Last year, he won a Grade II and finished second in the May 11 Iroquois (NSA-I) before going to the sidelines with a minor ankle injury.
"He's been an extremely sound horse his whole career, so I stopped right then," Hendriks said. "If it was another horse whose legs filled up now and again I might have kept going. Hopefully, I gave him enough time."
Praise The Prince, who won a training flat race on April 12 at Colonial Downs, gets a new jockey in 2002 champion David Bentley.
Hendriks also trains the race's second choice, Mike Moran's Mcdynamo.
The field (with owner, trainer, jockey, morning line) in post position
1. Mcdynamo (Mike Moran, Sanna Hendriks, Craig Thornton, 3-1).
2. Quel Senor (Coppertree Farm, Tom Voss, Cyril Murphy, 10-1).
3. Shamrock Isle (Edie Dixon, Jack Fisher, Gus Brown, 8-1).
4. Praise The Prince (Augustin Stable, Sanna Hendriks, David Bentley, 9-5).
5. All Gong (Calvin Houghland, Bruce Miller, Chip Miller, 6-1).
6. Anofferucantrefuse (Fox Ridge Farm, Tom Voss, Arch Kingsley, 15-1).
7. Turkish Corner (Kay Jeffords, Bruce Miller, Robbie Walsh, 20-1).
8. Al Skywalker (Michael Watt, Jennifer Majette, Tom Foley, 4-1).
All starters carry 158 pounds.