07/20/2003 11:00PM

Johnson hopes to continue roll


Saturday was a memorable day for trainer Murray Johnson, whose stable star, Perfect Drift, thoroughly dominated the $400,000 Washington Park Handicap to become a major contender for the Aug. 16 Arlington Million, the annual highlight of the meet at Arlington Park.

But trainers do not live on memories, nor stakes, alone which is why Johnson is looking forward to the Wednesday card at Arlington. Johnson will saddle half-siblings in two of the nine races, including the improving grass filly Twilight Glow in the eighth-race feature, a $34,000 second-level allowance at about 1 1/16 miles on turf.

Twilight Glow, a 4-year-old by Sandpit, and Grey Reef Bow, a 3-year-old Jade Hunter colt who makes his career debut in the third race, are both out of the dam Cozzenette. Both horses were bred and are owned by Johnson's main client, Dr. William Reed, the Kansas City, Mo., heart surgeon who also bred and owns Perfect Drift.

Twilight Glow, a winner at Churchill Downs of her most recent start, "ran a great race last time," said Johnson. "Hopefully she can keep moving forward. It's been a progression of things, the way she's improved."

Twilight Glow will start from post 8 in a field of nine fillies and mares. One other Louisville-based trainer also has a major contender in the race: Niall O'Callaghan, who will ship De Laroche in from Churchill.

The other logical contenders in the feature are Delicatessa, narrowly beaten for the same allowance condition on June 29, and Sweet Baby Jane, to be ridden by red-hot Rene Douglas, who set a meet record Saturday by riding five winners.

Grey Reef Bow, said Johnson, may ultimately have a future on turf, but a one-mile race for Illinois-breds was available, "and it should give him good experience. He's a nice horse, like his sister, and I don't know if he's going to win, but I expect him to run well."

If nothing else, Grey Reef Bow has been well prepared for his debut, having recorded nine workouts at Johnson's primary base, the Trackside training center in Louisville, Ky. Grey Reef Bow will face seven other statebreds when he starts from post 1.

Meanwhile, Perfect Drift returned Sunday to Trackside, located some five miles east of Churchill. Johnson said he intends to wait until two days prior to the Million before he ships Perfect Drift back to Arlington.

"He loves Trackside, and Trackside loves him," he said.