A bout with colic knocked the Greg Foley-trained son of Glitterman out of a planned run in the Preakness (gr. I), but Champali has been sharp in his training over the past two weeks and has been installed as the 8-5 morning line favorite in the one-mile race for 3-year-olds.
"He's really done well the last couple of weeks," said Foley. "He acts good around the barn, he's bouncing and feeling good and I think he'll be tough."
Champali comes into the Northern Dancer off a two-race losing streak -- the longest in a career in which he has fashioned a 6-1-1 record in nine races with earnings of $333,954. Those losses included a runner-up finish to the highly regarded Midas Eyes in Churchill Downs' Derby Trial (gr. III) on April 26. He was third before that to New York Hero and Eugene's Third Son in the Lane's End (gr. II) at Turfway Park. The biggest win of his career came at last fall at Churchill Downs when he won the $100,000 Iroquois (gr. III) under Day at the Northern Dancer's one-turn mile distance.
Pat Day will ride Champali, who will carry highweight of 122 pounds.
A major rival to Champali in the Northern Dancer is Walter "Buddy" New's Lone Star Sky, the winner of Churchill Downs' 2002 Bashford Manor (gr. III) who finished a disappointing 15th to Funny Cide in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). The Derby run was one of a string of dull efforts by the Tom Amoss-trained son of Conquistador Cielo, who has now lost eight consecutive races.
"I just don't know where I am with this horse," said Amoss. "He continues to train great, but we're just not getting the performance out of him."
Calvin Borel will ride Lone Star Sky, who will be outfitted with blinkers for the first time since he finished 11th in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Arlington Park.
Another major player is James McIngvale's During, the Bob Baffert-trained runner-up to Best Minister in the Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico and the 3-1 second choice in the morning line.
Cornelio Velasquez, the leading rider in the Churchill Downs Spring Meet, will ride the son of Cherokee Run. $100,000-added Northern Dancer Stakes, 3-year-olds, 1 mile
PP. Horse (Weight), Jockey, ML Odds
1. During (114), Cornelio Velasquez, 3-1
2. Crowned Dancer (114), Daniel Coa, 9-2
3. Champali (122), Pat Day, 8-5
4. Lone Star Sky (120), Calvin Borel, 5-1
5. Dance Pro (114), Mark Guidry, 15-1
6. Tee To Green (114), Jon Court, 30-1
7. Clock Stopper (114), Jerry Bailey, 5-1
8. Leitrim Lakes (114), Shane Sellers, 15-1