07/12/2002 12:00AM

Cup moves to bar slowpokes


For the first time, the Breeders' Cup will prohibit certain inexperienced or slow horses from participating in the World Thoroughbred Championship races. The Cup board passed the new rules at a meeting on Friday in Lexington, Ky.

The rules would only come into play only on bottom-of-the-barrel horses, but they would allow Breeders' Cup to bar a horse like Ricks Natural Star, who ran in the 1996 Breeders' Cup Turf after three straight losses in cheap claiming events in New Mexico. Ricks Natural Star was eased after contesting the pace for half of a mile.

Barred horses would include all non-maiden horses who had started for a claiming price of $15,000 or less in the last two years without running in the top five for $20,000. Maidens 3 years old and up would be subjected to the same formula, but the prices would be $18,000 and $32,000.

Breeders' Cup also said that Lone Star Park will host the 2004 event, subject to certain formalities. Churchill Downs was initially scheduled to host the 2004 Breeders' Cup, but the track is expected to be under construction at that time. Churchill is expected to host the 2005 event instead.