Edited from a release
Thirteen steeplechase stakes horses were nominated Tuesday to the $150,000 added Royal Chase (NSA-I) to be run at Keeneland Friday, April 25. The richest race of the National Steeplechase Association's spring season, the Royal Chase fittingly attracted the best horses in training including eight grade I winners.
Michael Watt's Al Skywalker, second in last year's race, brings a perfect 2-for-2 record this year into the race. The 10-year-old California-bred son of Skywalker leads all steeplechases horses in 2003 earnings with $84,000. North Carolina-based trainer Jennifer Majette added Lasix to the horse's regimen this year, and was rewarded with a more relaxed horse. Al Skywalker still goes to the front, but he conserves his energy better than he has in the past.
Nancy Gerry's Flat Top, champion steeplechaser of 2002 and 1998, makes his 2003 season debut in the Keeneland race for Nancy Gerry. The Kentucky-bred ought to recognize Keeneland, he sold there as a yearling for $20,000 (to Ken Ramsey) and won the Royal Chase in 2000. Now 10, Flat Top brings $592,306 in career jump earnings (fourth all-time) into the race.
Two other grade I performers making their seasonal bows come from the same barn. Pennsylvania-based trainer Sanna Hendriks nominated Augustin Stable's Praise The Prince and McDynamo. The former, a New Zealand-bred, is a proven open stakes horse who hasn't raced over hurdles since finishing second in the 2002 Iroquois (NSA-I) last May. Stablemate McDynamo, who races for owner Mike Moran, dominated second-season steeplechasers last year and steps up to open company for the first time. Both Neilson horses won training flat races April 12 at Colonial Downs.
Others of note in the race include 2001 Breeders' Cup Steeplechase (NSA-I) winner Quel Senor, one of four horses nominated by trainer Tom Voss.
Entries for the 2 1/2-mile race, part of closing day at Keeneland's spring meet since 1998, close Monday, April 21. All horses will carry 158 pounds.
The complete nomination list (with owner, trainer) in alphabetical order:
Al Skywalker (Michael Watt, Jennifer Majette)
All Gong (Calvin Houghland, Bruce Miller)
Anofferucantrefuse (Fox Ridge Farm, Tom Voss)
Big Brush (Blackwood Stable, Tom Voss)
Flat Top (Nancy Gerry, Janet Elliot)
Mcdynamo (Mike Moran, Sanna Hendriks)
Popular Gigalo (Clorevia Farm, Janet Elliot)
Praise The Prince (Augustin Stable, Sanna Hendriks)
Quel Senor (Coppertree Farm, Tom Voss)
Shamrock Isle (Edie Dixon, Jack Fisher)
Teb's Bend (Mimi Voss, Tom Voss)
Tres Touche (Contrarian Stable, Ricky Hendriks)
Turkish Corner (Kay Jeffords, Bruce Miller)