06/21/2004 11:00PM

128 pounds too heavy a load for Summer Mis


CHICAGO - Trainer Chris Block still is mulling Mystery Giver's participation Saturday in the Prairie State Festival, six Illinois-bred stakes races at Arlington Park. Tony Mitchell has made up his mind.

Tuesday morning, Mitchell flatly said that Summer Mis, 2003 Illinois Horse of the Year, will sit out the Isaac Murphy Handicap on the Prairie State card. Mitchell said he would hold Summer Mis out of the race because her assigned weight, 128 pounds, was unfair.

"Put it this way," said Mitchell, who trains Summer Mis for Richard Otto. "I was bitterly disappointed when I saw the weight."

In April, Summer Mis carried 128 pounds when she easily beat Illinois-breds in the $100,000 Governor's Lady Handicap. Last fall, she won a statebred race under 127 pounds. But Summer Mis finished sixth, beaten more than 11 lengths, when she faced unrestricted company in the $40,000 Fit for a Queen Stakes on May 15 at Arlington, and it was this showing Mitchell felt earned Summer Mis a break in the weights.

"She's carried it before, but look what it's done to her," he said. "Every time they do it, it puts a nail in her coffin. The only way something might change is if Mr. Otto makes the call, and right now, we're on the same page."

Mystery Giver, winner of the Grade 2 Mervin Muniz earlier this season, will carry 127 pounds if Block elects to run him Saturday in the Cardinal Handicap.

Block planned to make a decision Wednesday.

Mystery Giver was pulled from the June 12 Opening Verse Handicap at Churchill because of swelling in a hind ankle, but the horse is ready to run, Block said. The weight assignment and other potential spots to run will factor in his decision, Block said.

Block does have three other horses for the Prairie State Festival: Fraternity and Fort Prado go in the Springfield Stakes; Lighthouse Lil will be among the favorites in the Lincoln Heritage.

Seattle Hoofer begins comeback

Seattle Hoofer runs Thursday at Arlington in the featured eighth race. And that alone is a story.

A 4-year-old Seattle Slew colt owned by Bob McNair's Stonerside Stable, Seattle Hoofer ran onto the fringe of the national spotlight when he won the first two races of his career during the winter of 2003 at Fair Grounds. The fast start and high-end pedigree made Seattle Hoofer seem like a Triple Crown hopeful, but the colt was just hanging on. A nagging knee problem caught up to him in the Risen Star Stakes, in which he finished ninth, and Seattle Hoofer spent the next many months in rehab.

"We were a little skeptical that he could make it back," trainer Mike Stidham said. "People have spent a lot of time with him getting him ready. Tim Jones, the assistant down there at Stonerside's farm in South Carolina, did a great job with this horse."

Seattle Hoofer never has run in a sprint race, but goes six furlongs Thursday. He has been working since April for his comeback, with three bullet breezes on his work tab, and has found a spot with ample pace to set up a late run.

"Yeah, we're hoping he can get up, but it's not the end-all," Stidham said. "But we're hoping this race gets him ready for future races."

Stidham is in the midst of a banner year, and is among the leading trainers at Arlington. Last Saturday, he won two races here, including one for Stonerside, and missed winning another by a neck. He has two other horses in on Thursday's card, Lucky Gambler in the ninth, and Dragonwood in the fourth.