06/29/2003 11:00PM

For now, Meche can ride


Jockey Donnie Meche was granted a stay in New Orleans district court Monday from a one-year suspension handed to him last April, and he hopes to begin riding this week at Louisiana Downs.

The Louisiana Racing Commission gave Meche a one-year suspension April 29 for failing to do his best to win a race last winter at Delta Downs. Meche appealed the ruling and won the stay during a procedural hearing.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for July 18, when the district court will consider a request by the racing commission to consolidate the Delta ruling with another ruling against Meche, for a drug-testing violation last winter at Fair Grounds. Meche has already served a suspension for the drug-testing violation and has appealed that ruling as well. Before he can ride again, Meche will have to renew his Louisiana license, which was to have lapsed June 30.

Meche rode the Steve Asmussen-trained horse Cleaning House to a third-place finish as a heavy favorite in a trial race for the Graduation Futurity Jan. 23 at Delta. Cleaning House returned to win the finals of the Graduation Futurity.

Delta stewards later handed Meche a six-month suspension, saying he didn't do his best to win the trial. The commission upheld the suspension on April 29 and increased the ban by six months. Asmussen, Meche, and his attorney, Sonny Garcia, have contended Cleaning House injured his hoof when he stumbled at the start of the trial.