... and Kent Desormeaux romp in leg 2 of the thoroughbred Triple Crown, at Pimlico in MD. ALTIMORE (TICKER) —Big Brown will head to the Big Apple in quest of making history.
Big Brown moved a step within immortality Saturday by blowing away the field in the 133rd Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.
On June 7, the undefeated Big Brown could stamp himself as one of the sport's all-time greats as he will attempt to win the Belmont Stakes and become horse racing's 12th Triple Crown winner.
"He just keeps on getting better," trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said. "He just keeps showing everyone he's special."
Affirmed was the last Triple Crown winner in 1978.
During that stretch, six horses have won both the Derby and Preakness but were beaten in the grueling 1 1/2-mile Belmont, most recently Smarty Jones in 2004.
Dutrow heads to New York full of confidence.
"It doesn't look like he got down on his belly today," Dutrow said. "I know we have horse left. I'm going to be under the impression that he's going to be tough to beat in the Belmont."
Big Brown finished a comfortable 5 1/4 lengths in front of Macho Again. Icabad Crane was a distant third.
"It was almost like the Kentucky Derby. He just set sail," jockey Kent Desormeaux said.
Big Brown improved to 5-for-5 in his career and joined Majestic Prince (1969), Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew (1977) and Smarty Jones as unbeaten Derby winners who also won the Preakness.
Unlike the Derby where he had plenty of ground to cover when he became the first horse in 69 years to win from post 20, Big Brown started in the middle of the pack from the seventh gate in this 12-horse field.
The imposing bay colt broke well under the guidance of Desormeaux, setting in to second behind Gayego. He was third at the half-mile mark and positioned perfectly on the turn for home.
Desormeaux then took Big Brown to the outside, where the colt - whose name is a tribute to the United Parcel Service - accelerated away, leaving the rest of the field in his wake.
"I looked between my legs, under my arms, they were eight back," Desormeaux said. "I just stopped riding, reeled him in and just made sure he didn't pull up. He just kept kicking his legs up and striding for the wire."
The overwhelming 1-5 favorite, Big Brown covered 1 3/16 miles in 1:54.80 and paid $2.40, $2.60 and $2.40. The winning price was the shortest in Belmont history.
One of the major questions heading into the Belmont will be if anyone can even challenge Big Brown, whose five career wins have come by an average of almost eight lengths. He captured the first jewel of the Triple Crown by 4 3/4 lengths.
"To bring him back for the Triple Crown will be a dream come true," said co-owner Michael Iavarone, who once worked on Wall Street. "It's going to be a fun, fun three weeks."
Desormeaux again will head to the race dubbed the "Test of the Champion" with a chance to win the Triple Crown. In 1998, he was aboard Real Quiet, who won the Derby and Preakness before being edged by a nose by Victory Gallop in the Belmont.
A long shot from the rail for trainer Dallas Stewart, Macho Again returned $17.20 and $10.40 with Julien Leparoux in the saddle.
"He ran really great," Stewart said. "He hooked up with a superstar."
Icabad Crane, trained by Graham Motion and ridden by Jeremy Rose, paid $5.60.0
"I think the winner's the real deal," Motion said. "The only shot he has to get beat in the Belmont is if he doesn't handle the trip. We might take another shot at him."
Gayego, the only other horse to join Big Brown from a Kentucky Derby that was marred by the breakdown of filly Eight Belles, faded and finished 11th.
The complete order of finish was Big Brown, Macho Again, Icabad Crane, Racecar Rhapsody, Stevil, Kentucky Bear, Hey Byrn, Giant Moon, Tres Borrachos, Yankee Bravo, Gayego and Riley Tucker.