11/08/2003 12:00AM

Kenneally stars likely won't collide


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Perhaps the two best horses that Eddie Kenneally has trained since he took out his trainer's license eight years ago are Belle of Perintown and Vicki Vallencourt. Both fillies have been entered in the Tuesday feature at Churchill Downs, although Kenneally said he probably will rescind that enticing matchup by scratching one of them.

"I'm leaning toward running just Vicki Vallencourt," Kenneally said just after entries for the 10-race Tuesday card were drawn Saturday. "I need a place to start back with Belle of Perintown, but I don't know if I want these two to face each other. Vicki Vallencourt is doing so well right now that I'll probably just go with her."

The Kenneally fillies are the main players in the ninth race, a $63,400 allowance to be run at six furlongs. Vicki Vallencourt, owned by Ron and Ricki Rashinski, reached her peak in August with an easy romp in the Ellis Park Breeders' Cup Stakes. A 4-year-old gray, Vicki Vallencourt ran poorly in her latest start, the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes at Keeneland, but Kenneally said he expects a far better performance Tuesday.

Kenneally, 36, grew up in Ireland before migrating to the United States nearly 20 years ago to work in the horse business. He worked for several trainers before becoming a main cog in trainer Tom Skiffington's high-profile outfit in New York and Florida in the early 1990's. He then moved to Kentucky in 1995 and opened his own stable.

Besides the Kenneally duo, the Tuesday feature also drew Idadidit, Timeless Love, Savorthetime, and Emily Ring. Of those, Savorthetime, who had a productive summer in Chicago for trainer Al Stall Jr., probably rates best.

Two races earlier, there is a $54,900 allowance for fillies and mares. Flager and Cat's Glow appear to be the logical choices in that 1 1/16-mile race.

Johnston returns home

Mark Johnston, one of Maryland's all-time leading jockeys, said he will begin riding late this week at Churchill Downs.

Johnston was at Churchill Downs Friday, reacquainting himself with horsemen. He last rode at Churchill on a regular basis in 1989. That year he rode in Kentucky as a 19-year-old apprentice before relocating to Maryland, where he became an Eclipse Award-winning apprentice in 1990.

Johnston, a 32-year-old native of Lebanon, Ky., has won more than 3,000 races. This year he has won with 27 of his 321 mounts, down from 2002 when he rode 189 winners. The leading rider in Maryland four times, he rode a career-high 336 winners in 2000.

Early this year he took a sabbatical from riding, and eventually relocated to the West Coast, where he began riding at Santa Anita. He later returned to the East Coast before the latest move to Kentucky.

Johnston plans to ride at Turfway Park following the conclusion of the Churchill meet, he said. Former jockey Charlie Woods is his agent.

For Woods, who retired last month following a series of injuries, this represents a new opportunity.

Of his new career as a jock's agent, Woods said, "It's the same ballgame and a different ballgame."

Another setback for Sellers

Jockey Shane Sellers could miss most of the Churchill Downs meeting because of a fractured tailbone, said his agent, Fred Aime. Sellers, who took off his mounts Saturday and Sunday, was to undergo a doctor's examination Saturday to determine a timetable for his return, Aime said.

"Hopefully he'll be back for some of the stakes on the last weekend here," Aime said. "If not, then we'll go on to [Fair Grounds]. We won't know very much until after he sees his doctor."

Sellers was injured when he was thrown from a mount in a paddock accident Thursday. He rode Friday's card, but was too uncomfortable to ride over the weekend. Earlier in the week, Sellers took off mounts because of an attack of gout.

"We had a great week the week before," said Aime. "That's the way it is - chicken one week and feathers the next."

Ballado Chieftan injured in workout

Ballado Chieftan, the runner-up in last month's Perryville Stakes at Keeneland for trainer Nick Zito, was seriously injured in a breeze at Churchill Downs Saturday morning. He was completing a half-mile workout over a fast racetrack when he fractured both seasmoids in his right front ankle.

Veterinarian D. Foster Northrop stabilized Ballado Chieftan's leg. The horse was to be transported to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington for surgery.

"It's a tiresome game sometimes and this is the hardest part," said Zito. "As I've said, it's a game that will humble kings."

Ballado Chieftan's injury at Churchill Downs follows the fatal breakdowns of Sweet Jo Jo in the Nov. 1 Pocahontas Stakes and Finally Here in last Wednesday's featured allowance race.

* Tenpins, a candidate for the $500,000 Clark Handicap on Nov. 28, breezed six furlongs in 1:15 under jockey Joe Deegan at Churchill on Saturday. He finished second as the favorite in the Fayette Stakes at Keeneland Oct. 25, losing to longshot M B Sea.

- additional reporting by Byron King