Richard J. Schiano, Richard Dutrow, Kent Desormeaux and Michael Iavarone (Getty)
Big Brown delivered the goods as a 1-5 favourite should do in the Preakness Stakes, to remain on target to become the first Triple Crown winner for 30 years.
The Racing Post reports that he followed up his convincing success in the Kentucky Derby by finishing more than five lengths clear of Macho Again, and now heads to Belmont Park on June 7 for a crack at immortality.
The Japanese-trained, impressive recent Belmont Park winner Casino Drive could await Big Brown there, but trainer Rick Dutrow jnr is looking forward to the clash. “The Japanese people are going to find out Godzilla is not dead,” he said.
Big Brown’s jockey Kent Desormeaux enjoyed a smooth passage in the Preakness, much as he had in the Kentucky Derby two weeks earlier.
This time he was on the rail through the early stages, rather than on the far outside. Desormeaux got his horse off the rail coming to the final turn and the race was soon over. A furlong and a half out Desormeaux was in the clear.
“An armchair ride and a push-button,” said Desormeaux, who added that he began looking for competition “at about the half-mile pole”.
He said: “I was looking around, trying to make sure nobody slipped inside us. I was actually trying to slow him down. Then at the top of the stretch I pushed the button and said, ‘Bye-bye’.”
A tremendous cheer from the sunbaked crowd escorted Big Brown to the wire and US racing was given another shot at its 12th Triple Crown winner.
Should he win the Belmont Stakes, Big Brown would become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.