06/12/2003 12:00AM

Champali returns as favorite


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - For having raced just once since late March, Champali was in the news an awful lot this spring. The colt kept getting prominent mention as a potential entrant in the Lexington Stakes and Preakness, yet the only time he faced the starter was in his own back yard at Churchill Downs.

That appearance resulted in a respectable runner-up finish behind Midas Eyes in the April 26 Derby Trial, after which Champali came down with colic, preventing trainer Greg Foley from running the Glitterman colt in the Preakness. Foley was ambivalent about missing that race, saying there would be plenty of lucrative races for Champali in the near future.

One of those spots is on the Stephen Foster undercard Saturday at Churchill. Champali, with Pat Day to ride, figures as the solid favorite in the $100,000 Northern Dancer Handicap, which drew a field of eight 3-year-olds.

Foley said earlier this week that Champali has fully recovered from his bout with colic and that the colt has been training with a flourish. Considering the colt's desire and consistency - he is 6 for 9 lifetime and has never missed a paycheck - the one-mile Northern Dancer seems like the ideal place for a return to action.

Two other locally based colts figure as the main threats: Clock Stopper, 2 for 2 at the meet, and During, a Bob Baffert-trained colt who was second as the favorite to Best Minister in the Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico in his last start.

Dallas Stewart, trainer of Clock Stopper, said he has come up with a rather simple strategy for beating Champali. "We're just going to have to whup 'em," he said.

Post time is 4:13 p.m. Eastern for the Northern Dancer, the first leg of an all-stakes pick four offering a $250,000 guaranteed pool.

Reinstedler to start two in Regret

Deserved or not, young turf horses don't seem to have the name recognition of colleagues who compete on dirt.

That inequity is just fine with Tony Reinstedler, who would just as soon have the money as the publicity. Reinstedler could be in line for a nice payday when he starts two contenders, Sand Springs and Aud, in the $200,000 Regret Stakes, a Grade 3 turf race for 3-year-old fillies.

Sand Springs already has two wins over the Churchill turf course this spring, while Aud was a drawing-off winner in a May 26 turf race.

With a full field of 12, the Regret might be the best betting race of the Saturday card. The slight favorite in the 1 1/8-mile race could be Forest Shadows, who is 3 for 3 on grass, including a win in the May 2 Edgewood Stakes. Other logical contenders include Golden Marlin, recent winner of the Dogwood Stakes; Dyna Da Wyna, a gritty winner here May 18; and Personal Legend, a recent purchase by trainer Bobby Frankel for Edmund Gann.

The Regret, which dates to 1970, is the eighth race on the Stephen Foster card.

* Besides the four stakes here Saturday, Churchill racing secretary Doug Bredar has carded three allowances and four maiden-special-weight races. There is not a single claiming event on the 11-race program.