06/26/2002 11:00PM

Mott making Oaks bid with High Maintenance


SALEM, N.H. - After a strong performance by Del Mar Show here last week, trainer Bill Mott is sending another horse to Rockingham: High Maintenance in Saturday's $25,000 Rockingham Oaks at 1 1/16 miles on turf.

While Del Mar Show seemed to have no problem dealing with the mix of shippers and local talent in the New Hampshire Sweepstakes, this time around Mott's charge could be more vulnerable.

High Maintenance has only one win in four starts in the United States - a maiden victory over the Gulfstream Park grass in April. She began her career in Ireland, making three starts last year before shipping across the Atlantic. Most recently she finished second in a mile allowance race at Belmont on May 17.

Despite being light on victories, High Maintenance is the only runner in the field with a win on the grass.

A challenge will likely come early in the race. Wekiva Storm scored both of her career victories with a wire-to-wire performance. She comes into the Rockingham Oaks on a four-race losing streak, but has been fighting with older fillies. She debuted on the grass in her last race and finished second as the only 3-year-old in the field.

"She's showing some real promise," said her trainer, John Assimakopolous. "It took us a little while to get her number, but it really looks like the added distance and the way she took to the turf last time means bigger and better things are coming."

Leading trainer Ron Dandy goes into the Oaks with a plan and potential, as Nannie's Sword makes her first grass start and first New England appearance since being claimed in Kentucky.

"Owner John Cole and I saw something that caught our eye with her," said Dandy. "We claimed her with the thought of going in here. She breezed here, and she's doing just what we expect."

Little Time, who won the Boston Common Stakes against Massachusetts-breds, is the only runner in the field with a stakes tally. Conwiss, who was second in the Helena Stakes in April, should also help set the pace.

Thy Will Be Done, maiden Tranquility Base, and For Gold's Sake round out the field.

Duys appeals 10-day ban

Jockey Dodie Duys has appealed a recent 10-day suspension for careless riding.

Duys and apprentice jockey Adrian Hernandez were both handed bans after an incident on June 21 when Duys, on Brain Teazer, and Hernandez, on Western Stage, squeezed jockey Luis Garcia, on Mister Goodie, tossing him from the saddle. Hernandez's mount ran fourth, and Duys's ran ninth, but their horses were disqualified to the last two finish positions.

Hernandez began serving his suspension this week. Garcia was unhurt in the incident.

"I think it was a very bad call by the stewards," said Duys. "I was making more than sufficient effort to keep my horse from going in." Hernandez and Western Stage, Duys said, "came over on me and I nearly fell."

Duys's appeal will be heard July 10.