December 20, 2002 -- Grade I winner It's A Giggle, America's third-leading steeplechase horse of 2002, died late last week after a short bout with colic. The 8-year-old son of Northern Baby was humanely destroyed at a surgical clinic in Tryon, N.C. late on the night of Dec. 13.
Owned by Bill Pape, It's A Giggle had been in light work at trainer Jonathan Sheppard's barn in Camden, S.C. after completing the 2002 season with three wins in four starts and $172,620 in earnings. Third behind Flat Top and Mcdynamo on the National Steeplechase Association's earnings list, It's A Giggle is expected to be an Eclipse Award finalist for 2002.
His loss weighed heavily on Sheppard, who kept It's A Giggle out of fall Grade I starts in the Breeders' Cup Steeplechase and the Colonial Cup (both won by Flat Top) because of soft turf conditions.
"It's very unfortunate and we are all just devastated," he said. "We tried to protect him and do what was right this fall so he could come back and compete for a championship next year. I think we did right by the horse, which is all you can do. Then this happens, and it's very hard."
In 2002, It's A Giggle won the Sandhills Cup Stakes at Stoneybrook, N.C., the Royal Chase (Gr. I) at Keeneland and the A.P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. II) at Saratoga (one of five career wins at the New York track). His lone defeat came in the New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. I) in soft turf conditions at Saratoga.
In 2001, a year in which he was named the champion Pennsylvania-bred steeplechaser and his dam Martie's Delighted was the state's broodmare of the year, It's A Giggle won three races at Saratoga including the Turf Writers. For his career, the Pape/Sheppard homebred won nine steeplechases (including five stakes) from 16 starts. His $347,790 in career earnings are 19th on the all-time list.