10/17/2004 11:00PM

Summer Mis retired after dull effort

Four Footed Fotos
Cool Conductor wins Saturday's Hawthorne Derby six days after he raced at Keeneland.

CHICAGO - Summer Mis's crowning achievement was a win last fall in the Grade 3 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes, but after finishing last of six in the Sunday at Keeneland, Summer Mis's racing career is over.

There is nothing particularly amiss with her, but it seems clear to Summer Mis's connections, owner Richard Otto and trainer Tony Mitchell, that she has lost her spark.

"That race told me she'd had enough," Mitchell said Monday morning. "She's going to go off and be a broodmare."

Mitchell said Summer Mis is staying in Kentucky at the Two Lanterns Farm, and she will be bred during the upcoming breeding season. Mitchell said Otto hoped to breed Summer Mis to the young stallion Empire Maker, but that no plans had been finalized.

has a Kentucky pedigree, by Summer Squall out of Otto's excellent broodmare Julie Mis, who is by Miswaki. But Summer Mis was bred in Illinois and has been one of the best statebred horses in recent seasons. A sprinter who could stretch her brilliant speed out to a mile, Summer Mis launched her career at 2 and wound up with 11 wins from 23 starts and earnings of more than $542,000.

"I'm kind of emotional about it," said Mitchell. "She's the one that helped put me on the map."

Between Summer Mis and her younger sister Julie's Prize, Mitchell had a couple of memorable seasons. This year has been more of a struggle.

"I'm not saying I was spoiled, but things were good," Mitchell said. "This business goes in cycles."

Just as he was losing his stable star, Mitchell trotted out another potential stakes horse Saturday at Hawthorne, a 2-year-old Illinois-bred colt named Humor at Last, who won a maiden race Saturday by more than seven lengths. Humor at Last showed good speed and a professional demeanor, and Mitchell said Humor at Last is likely to run back next month in a statebred sprint stakes.

"This horse is a really nice horse, and I think he'll be even better going long," said Mitchell.

Cuccurullo set to retire again

Pat Cuccurullo, who won the National Jockey Club at Hawthorne training title this past spring, said he is leaving the sport the day after Thanksgiving. Cuccurullo, currently serving as trainer Steve Asmussen's top assistant, said he plans to move to Phoenix and purse opportunities outside the racing world.

Cuccurullo has left racing before, only to rise again, and he didn't rule out a future comeback, perhaps at Turf Paradise. But for now, Cuccurullo said he has had enough.

"Basically, I want to have more time to spend with my family," said Cuccurullo, 47. "Right now, I'm setting my alarm clock for 4:30 in the morning, and I want a job where I don't have to do that."

Cuccurullo began working at the track as a hotwalker in the early 1970's, taking a job with the famed Lucien Laurin. Working mainly with claiming horses, he has had several good runs, including a stint as one of the leading trainers at Canterbury Park in the 1980's. With his numbers down, Cuccurullo caught on with owner Frank Calabrese during the summer of 2003, and after Calabrese split with Wayne Catalano, Cuccurullo took over the operation, winning his title last spring.

But the Cuccurullo-Calabrese relationship also frayed, and by mid-summer that, too, had ended. Cuccurullo surfaced as Asmussen's man in Chicago at the start of the Hawthorne meet - his second tenure with Team Asmussen - but now is leaving again.

Plans for Cool Conductor unclear

Cool Conductor's connections wasted little time getting him home to Kentucky after he scored a narrow win Saturday in the Hawthorne Derby. By Saturday night, Cool Conductor was back home at Churchill Downs, and he appears to have come out of his victory in good physical condition, according to Ken McCarthy, a Kentucky-based assistant to trainer Bill Mott.

"I'm not sure what's next," McCarthy said Monday. "Bill's not decided yet."

Cool Conductor won the derby here just six days after running fourth in a Keeneland stakes race.

* Hawthorne's Wednesday feature is a $35,000 optional claimer for fillies and mares on the grass. The race drew 12 entries and only 10 can start. Five of the horses in the field have more dirt form than turf, and it is possible some of their connections entered hoping the race would move to the main track.

Beautiful Bets, one of the also-eligibles, rates a decent chance if she draws into the field. She was sixth last out in the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Ladies Turf over the Kentucky Downs course. But the pick here is Chequered Love, who won her only start on the Hawthorne turf and can improve on the decent efforts she had in her last two starts at the Arlington meet.