06/20/2002 12:00AM

Beware of Mott, Bailey, and Del Mar Show


SALEM, N.H. - It is June and the biggest races in New England are taking place. That must mean Jerry Bailey, trainer Bill Mott, and the Allen Paulson Trust colors are poised to head to the winner's circle.

That Hall of Fame team will send the formidable Del Mar Show north to Rockingham Park for the 23rd running of the Grade 3, $200,000 New Hampshire Sweepstakes - the most prestigious grass race in New England and the showpiece of the Rock's season.

After a record-setting victory by Hap in the 1 1/8-mile turf race last year and the legendary trips by Cigar to Suffolk Downs in 1995 and 1996, New England racing fans are already accustomed to dominating performances when Bailey and Mott ship from New York.

Installed as the 7-5 morning line favorite and the starting highweight at 120 pounds, Del Mar Show shouldn't have trouble playing the dominator's role despite losing his last two starts, including a rough night in the Dubai Duty Free in March.

"He had an outside post and he never settled down for me over that course," said Bailey. "It wasn't a conventional layout there with a false backside and a couple different turns. He ended up getting rank. It was very unlike him. I'm going to assume it was the surroundings that got him keyed up."

Del Mar Show dispelled any notions of the Dubai trip taking too much out of him with his return to racing in the Dixie Handicap at Pimlico on Preakness Day. He finished second to Strut the Stage after pressing the pace over a yielding course.

The 5-year-old Del Mar Show has won four of his five starts when favored, including the Fort Lauderdale Handicap at Gulfstream last winter.

Also like past New England marauders for Mott, the competition is intimidated.

"I hope the van breaks down on the way up there," said trainer John Kimmel when asked to size up his improving Full Flow's chances against the favorite. Richard Migliore will make the trip from New York to try and guide Full Flow to his first stakes win for Juddmonte Farms.

Dr. Kashnikow is the only other graded stakes winner in the nine-horse field. Trainer John Fisher, who won the 1996 Sweeps with Brave Note, will give the mount to Mark Johnston. The winner of the River City Handicap last year at Churchill Downs, Brave Note is coming off a dull sixth-place finish as the 3-5 favorite in a Monmouth Park allowance.

Rochester and jockey Clyde Martin will take some action on the strength of a stakes win at Keeneland last fall and his top-shelf connections, Augustin Stable and trainer Jonathan Sheppard.

Mus-If travels from Maryland with jockey Eddie Martin Jr. rolling on a four-race win streak.

Local horses round out the field, including the 2001 top turf horse in New England, Ben Speedin.

Track surface altered

Last weekend's rainouts have prompted Rockingham management to change the track composition.

Rockingham's loam-based surface has always been a marked change from the sand-based winter track at Suffolk Downs with some horses running noticeably better or worse as the seasons shifted.

This year's unseasonably wet and cool weather led track officials to add more sand to the mix for better drainage.