Pacesetter Al Skywalker and It's A Giggle sprinted away from the field in the stretch before It's A Giggle surged ahead to notch a two-length win in the $169,958 Royal Chase for the Sport of Kings Stakes (NSA-I) at Keeneland Friday.
Quel Senor, who tracked Al Skywalker through most of the race, fell at the next-to-last hurdle, and from there it was a two-horse race. Under Blythe Miller, It's A Giggle put away Al Skywalker approaching the wire and completed the 2 1/2 miles in 4:39.42 on a firm turf course.
"He's got a great gallop and in these races you need to be on a great jumper too," said Miller, who won the race for the third time since it was inaugurated in 1998. "He was so sweet today. Usually he's on the lead but he hit his lick and jumped great. Coming to the last (jump), I was really working. I didn't think we'd get there."
Flat Top finished third, 22 1/4 lengths behind Al Skywalker. 6-5 favorite Lord Zada was another 14 1/2 lengths back in fourth. Quel Senor fell and Shamrock Isle and Turkish Corner were pulled out of the race before reaching the stretch for the final time.
William L. Pape's 8-year-old son of Northern Baby earned $109, 650 for the win, his eighth in sixteen starts. The Jonathan Sheppard trainee remained perfect from two starts on the year, having taken an allowance earlier this month. Last year, It's A Giggle blossomed at Saratoga, winning each of his three starts there while equaling the course record of 4:12.04 for 2 3/8 miles.
It's a Giggle paid $8.80, $5.40, and $3.80 as the third choice. Al Skywalker, ridden by Thomas Foley, returned $9 and $5 and completed the $92.60 exacta. Flat Top, with Robert Massey aboard, paid $3.40. (Chart, Equibase