06/18/2006 11:00PM

Johnson sees the bright side

Jefferson Cup winner Brilliant will go next in the Lexington at Belmont.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Despite suffering the racetrack equivalent of being kicked in the stomach, Murray Johnson did receive a few measures of consolation this weekend. Johnson is the trainer of Perfect Drift, the 7-year-old gelding who incurred the most wicked of beats when nipped by longshot Seek Gold in the Stephen Foster Handicap on Saturday at Churchill Downs.

Not only did Perfect Drift earn $162,144 for finishing second, but also he signaled that he is ready to rejoin the ranks of the nation's top older handicap horses after running two dull races to open his 2006 campaign.

"At least we're back in the thick of things," said Johnson, who initially believed Perfect Drift had held off Seek Gold and won the Foster.

"We never thought he went anywhere. When we say 'He's back' we mean he's back from vacation. When other people say he's back, they think he's back from being a bad horse or something."

There was a little more good news for Johnson on Sunday. His stable dominated the fifth race when Sir Laff a Lot and Grey Reef Bow finished one-two. The victory was only the fifth of the year for Johnson and the first time in years he had swept an exacta.

What's next

According to their respective trainers, here are the possible next starts for some of the main players from the Foster Day supporting races:

* My Typhoon (winner, Mint Julep), the July 15 Locust Grove at Churchill, although she will return to trainer Bill Mott's main base at Belmont Park in the interim.

* Brilliant (winner, Jefferson Cup), the July 9 Lexington Handicap at Belmont.

* High Cotton (winner, Northern Dancer), the July 15 Ohio Derby at Thistledown.

* Oonagh Maccool (second, Fleur de Lis), the July 16 Delaware Handicap.

* Storm Treasure (third, Jefferson Cup), the July 1 Arlington Classic.

Bright One a bright one

Although he didn't win any of the six Foster Day stakes, trainer Dale Romans still enjoyed a terrific Saturday. Romans, who has opened a big lead atop the Churchill trainer standings, won three consecutive races early on the card, ending with a victory by a 3-year-old colt named Bright One. Making his second career start, Bright One won a one-mile maiden race by 9 1/2 lengths in 1:33.91 to earn a 101 Beyer Speed Figure.

"He's one of the top prospects I've ever had," said Romans. "I couldn't believe he didn't win the first time."

Romans said he scratched Yate's Black Cat, the morning-line favorite for the Jefferson Cup, in favor of the $1 million Colonial Cup this Saturday at Colonial Downs in Virginia.

Fans turn up for rider autographs

About 1,200 fans turned out for the jockey autograph session that lasted for 2 1/2 hours Saturday at Churchill. Six Kentucky Derby-winning jockeys participated: Jerry Bailey, Don Brumfield, Angel Cordero Jr., Pat Day, Chris McCarron, and Jacinto Vasquez.

The event raised more than $1,500 for the Disabled Jockeys' Fund, according to Donnie Richardson, senior vice president of racing for Churchill Downs Inc.

Suave, Second of June put on a show

Suave and Second of June put on quite a show Friday, racing head-and-head down the stretch in the $68,000 allowance feature. Suave won by a nose in what was a terrific race for both 5-year-olds, most notably for Second of June, who was making his first start in 14 months.

A rematch is possible in the Grade 2, $300,000 Washington Park Handicap, a 1 3/16-mile race set for July 29 at Arlington Park.

* A dedication ceremony was to take place Monday evening for a new chapel on the Churchill backstretch. The $630,000, 320-seat chapel was built from funds raised by the Racetrack Chaplaincy of America and will serve the needs of backside workers and others in the horse industry.