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May 23, 2008

Big Brown a step away from Triple Crown


Baltimore, MD (Sports Network) - Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown romped to victory in Saturday's 133rd Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. The colt is now just one win away from becoming the 12th thoroughbred to claim racing's Triple Crown.

Trained by Rick Dutrow, Jr., Big Brown is undefeated in five career starts, having won the races by a total of 39 lengths.

Owned by IEAH Stables and Paul Pompa Jr., Big Brown can claim the Triple Crown by winning the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 7. He is the first winner of the first two legs of the Triple Crown since Smarty Jones in 2004. The last Triple Crown winner was Affirmed in 1978.

"To be where we are, to win the Derby, to win here...I can't find the words," said Richard Schiavo, an owner of Big Brown. "It's exciting, and I know the next three weeks going back to Long Island, the excitement will build and we look forward to the Belmont Stakes."

Sent off as the 1-5 favorite in the 12 horse field, Big Brown and jockey Kent Desormeaux broke well from the gate and quickly moved toward the inside. Taking the lead into the first turn was Gayego followed by Big Brown, Riley Tucker and Hey Byrn.

Gayego, ridden by Mike Smith, continued on the lead up the backstretch with Riley Tucker in second and Big Brown on the outside in third. Heading into the far turn Gayego, Riley Tucker and Big Brown were on even terms away from the rest of the field.

Racing three wide around the turn for home Big Brown took the lead coming into the stretch and quickly left his challengers behind. The colt accelerated down the stretch and to a 5 1/4 length victory.

"Anybody that watched the race could see Kent never hit him with the stick that I could see," Dutrow said. "Kent might have asked him to run for a 16th of a mile when he turned for home just to put the race away and glided to the wire."

Finishing second was Derby Trial winner Macho Again with Icabad Crane, winner of the local Federico Tesio Stakes, third.

Rounding out the order of finish was Racecar Rhapsody, Stevil, Kentucky Bear, Hey Byrn, Giant Moon, Tres Borrachos, Yankee Bravo, Gayego and Riley Tucker. Behindatthebar was scratched Friday morning with a bruised front foot.

The time for the 1 3/16 miles was 1:54.80 on a fast Pimlico track.

The Preakness win was worth $650,000 to increase the three-year-old's earnings to better than $2.7 million.

Saturday it was announced that Big Brown will stand as a stud at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky when he is retired after this year.

Desormeaux also won the 1998 Preakness aboard Real Quiet. Big Brown joined Real Quiet as one of 11 horses to capture the Kentucky Derby and Preakness since Affirmed last won the Triple Crown.

Among the horses expected to challenge Big Brown in the Belmont will be Casino Drive, who was ridden to victory by Desormeaux in the Peter Pan Stakes on May 10 at the same track.

"I definitely think it's good," Desormeaux said of Casino Drive's chances of winning the Belmont. "I've ridden all the horses across the country. He's the only one that can even entertain Big Brown's stride. It's going to be exciting. He can run. He's a nice horse. It's another quarter of a mile. You know, there's so many hurdles. Can't wait to find out what happens but that's a cold exacta."

Casino Drive's dam, Better Than Honour, also produced the last two Belmont Stakes winners - Jazil in 2006 and Rags to Riches in 2007.

Big Brown returned $2.40, $2.60 and $2.40. Macho Again paid $17.20 and $10.40, and Icabad Crane paid $5.60 to show.

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