01/31/2003 1:00AM

Delta probe focus named


NEW ORLEANS - Delta Downs stewards confirmed Friday that they and the Louisiana State Racing Commission are investigating the performance of the horse Cleaning House in Delta's ninth race on Jan. 23.

The ninth race was one of two trials for the $30,000 Graduation Futurity, the final of which is scheduled for Feb. 15. The Futurity is open only to horses who were maidens as of Jan. 1, and the top five finishers in each trial qualified for the final. Cleaning House, who is trained by Steve Asmussen and was ridden by Donnie Meche, was the heavy favorite at 2-5, but finished third.

The Louisiana State Racing Commission said earlier this week that they were investigating the race in question, but on Friday stewards confirmed that the investigation centered on Cleaning House.

Cleaning House, who finished third in a Fair Grounds maiden turf race in his start before Jan. 23, didn't break well, but moved up strongly on the far turn. Cleaning House raced in behind the two leaders through the stretch but never caught them, settling for third, beaten 2 3/4 lengths.

A Delta steward said the stewards had not yet spoken to Asmussen or Meche and that they were still gathering information. It had originally been hoped the investigation would be completed and a final hearing held this week, the steward said.