08/10/2003 11:00PM

Summer Note to try again


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Summer Note has made it back to the races. What remains to be seen is at what level he has returned.

Summer Note's second start back from the second extended layoff of his career comes Wednesday, as Arlington Million week begins. Chicago's only three Grade 1 races, the Million, the Beverly D., and the Secretariat, are Saturday, and already a palpable sense of anticipation has settled over the racetrack.

As for Summer Note, his wait ended July 25, when he made his first start in a year and three weeks. Summer Note has battled leg problems for most of his career, and at age 6 he has run just seven times. In May 2002, Summer Note returned from a 28-month layoff and won, but this season his comeback failed. Close to a quick early pace, Summer Note was one-paced through the stretch run and finished second, beaten two lengths by a sometime claimer named Deer Lake.

His connections expect improvement. "We were satisfied," said Mary Rodriguez, assistant to Richard Hazelton, who trains Summer Note for Greg Bensinger. "He doesn't always train that hard, so we figured he might get a little tired. He definitely should have gotten something out of the race."

Summer Note is one of six horses in the eighth race, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for fourth-level allowance horses or $80,000 claimers. Two of his opponents, Silver Bid and Manitowish, are Illinois-breds, but both hit this race in peak form.

Silver Bid won for this claiming price two starts back, running six furlongs in 1:09.20. Manitowish, running for a $62,500 claiming price, won his last in 1:09. A speed horse, Silver Bid becomes vulnerable late at 6 1/2 furlongs if forced into a fast early pace.

The sixth race Wednesday has sufficient quality to qualify as a co-feature, but trainer Gene Cilio doesn't care what you call it. To Cilio, this is merely a chance at long last to run Soccory.

"She's been ready for a month," Cilio said. "We couldn't find a race for her."

Soccory, a 6-year-old Illinois-bred, will retire and become a broodmare after this season, but her last two starts stamp her as a contender in this high-end allowance with a $100,000 claiming option. Once a one-dimensional speed horse, Soccory has mellowed and now will rate behind the pace. That style could lead to a perfect trip stalking Crystal Sea, the likely pacesetter among the six horses entered here.