09/03/2004 11:00PM

Summer Mis just needs clean break


CHICAGO - If Summer Mis can stay on her feet, she should win the $50,000 Safely Kept Stakes on Monday at Arlington.

Summer Mis has the rail and the speed in the six-furlong Safely Kept. With a sharp break, she should be gone.

"When she has an outside post, you can look at taking back and tucking in," said trainer Tony Mitchell. "On the rail, you just have to go out there and let her do it."

Summer Mis looked like the inside speed in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss a month ago at Saratoga, but after breaking on top, she suddenly stumbled, losing her position and costing herself any real chance to win the race.

"In the past, she's outbroke herself, but that was right out of the gate," Mitchell said. "This was different. I have no idea what happened."

Even with the trouble, Summer Mis wound up fifth, beaten less than five lengths, and she is by far the most accomplished horse in the Safely Kept. An Illinois-bred with a graded stakes win, Summer Mis is winding down a successful career, and will be retired when she's finished racing this season. Her connections would love to win another graded stakes next month, and Mitchell said the Safely Kept is a prep race for that attempt.

Eddie Razo takes over on Summer Mis for regular rider Larry Sterling, and if Razo can get his filly out of the gate, hanging on may be all that is required of him.

On the far outside is Summer Mis's chief rival, Smoke Chaser, who won an overnight stakes here May 15, a race in which Summer Mis finished sixth. Summer Mis was compromised by an ovarian cyst then, and on a level playing field, she probably is the better of the two horses. But Smoke Chaser has never finished worse than third in 12 Arlington starts, and is ideally drawn for her preferred pressing trip.

"We have a good post, and she worked really good for this," said trainer Dale Bennett.

Questionable Past, an easy overnight stakes winner on Arlington Million Day, makes her first start against older horses. But like Smoke Chaser, she comes into the Safely Kept off a strong workout, a bullet half-mile breeze in the mud on Aug. 27.

"That was an excellent work," said trainer Mike Stidham, "but this is a tough spot."