11/30/2001 1:00AM

Lone Star moves its Derby

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There will be one fewer Kentucky Derby prep on the calendar next year. The $500,000 Lone Star Derby, which was awarded Grade 3 status on Thursday, will be run a week after the Kentucky Derby next year, on May 11. In its past five runnings, the race was held two to four weeks before the Kentucky Derby.

In other changes to the race, the $1 million bonus that rewarded the Lone Star Derby winner who went on to win a Triple Crown race will not be renewed next year. In the two years the bonus was offered, 2000 and 2001, it was not hit.

"We think the race will stand on its own with the grading, purse [and new date]," said Corey Johnsen, president of Lone Star Park near Dallas, the home of the Lone Star Derby.

Officials hope the Lone Star Derby will fill the void on the calendar left by the Illinois Derby, which is now run four weeks before the Kentucky Derby.

With the addition of Grade 3 status the Lone Star Derby, "we can really put a quality field on the track," said Johnsen. "To the best of our knowledge, from April 13 to around July 20, we will have the richest race for 3-year-olds other than the Triple Crown races."