Al Skywalker Tops Royal Chase Nominations

Thirteen steeplechase stakes horses were nominated Tuesday to the $150,000 added Royal Chase (NSA-I) to be run at Keeneland 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.

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 won the Royal Chase in 2000.

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.

Praise the Prince, 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 carry 158 pounds.