Big Brown installed as Preakness favorite

BALTIMORE (AP) - Running on the outside has been very good to
Big Brown. Now the Kentucky Derby winner gets to try things from
the middle.
He was installed as the 1-2 early favorite for Saturday's
Preakness, and a victory could set up a Triple Crown try three
weeks later in the Belmont Stakes.
A field of 13 3-year-olds was entered Wednesday, with Big Brown
drawing the No. 7 post for the 1 3-16th-mile race at Pimlico.
Big Brown won the Derby from the No. 20 far outside post and he
won the Florida Derby from the No. 12 post. Now, he'll test himself
under Kent Desormeaux from nearly the middle of the pack.
"He gets to save some ground for the first time," co-owner
Michael Iavarone said. "I don't know if that's a good thing or a
bad thing. We'll find out."
Eleven winners have come from the No. 7 post, the last being
Silver Charm in 1997. Silver Charm also won the Kentucky Derby, but
was outdueled in the stretch run of the Belmont by Touch Gold to
lose his Triple Crown bid.
Big Brown is 4-0 in his career, having won by a combined total
of more than 33 lengths. He was to arrive at Pimlico about two
hours late Wednesday night from Louisville, Ky., where he has been
stabled since his Derby win on May 3.
Trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. didn't attend the draw since he was
traveling on the plane with Big Brown. He has expressed concern
about running Big Brown again so soon after his 4¾-length victory
in the Derby. It will be the colt's shortest turnaround in his
young career.
"We all know how hard it is to win the Kentucky Derby and come
back in two weeks to win the Preakness," Iavarone said.
The colt will try to join Majestic Prince (1969), Triple Crown
winner Seattle Slew (1977) and Smarty Jones (2004) as undefeated
Derby winners who also won the Preakness. Six of the past 11 Derby
winners have gone on to take the second leg of the Triple Crown.
Trainer Nick Zito, who won the 1996 Preakness with Louis
Quatorze, was surprised to see 12 challengers line up against Big
"There is something about a Triple Crown race. I didn't think
there would be that many horses after Big Brown's performance (in
the Derby)," he said. "He's very good right now, until something
happens. The horse looks tremendous right now. You can't anoint
anybody yet. You've still got to run the race."
Ken McPeek trains Racecar Rhapsody, a 30-1 shot ridden by Robby
"Other than Big Brown, it looks like the race is wide open,"
he said. "We all know that anything can happen. You can't have any
fear. It's good for him to be tested again. If he's going to be a
Triple Crown winner, then make him work for it."
Iavarone and Richard Schiavo are partners in IEAH Stable, which
buys and breeds thoroughbreds and then organizes and manages
partnerships in those horses. They co-own Big Brown with Paul Pompa
Jr. The last two weeks have been a heady time for the group.
"The first six days we were trying to figure out what
happened," Iavarone said. "The last six days, when reality set
in, it's been an incredible experience that we got to share with
family and friends. It's been unbelievable."
Gayego was made the 8-1 second choice and will break from the
No. 12 post under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith. The Arkansas
Derby winner is the only Derby starter to take on Big Brown again.
Gayego started in the second from the outside post in the Derby and
finished 17th, beaten by 36¾ lengths.
Lexington Stakes winner Behindatthebar, trained by Todd
Pletcher, was the 10-1 third choice and drew the No. 5 post. He
skipped the Derby with the Preakness as his main target.
The other 10 starters were all listed at odds of 15-1 or higher.
Kentucky Bear was the first Preakness horse to arrive at Pimlico
this week. He drew the No. 8 post and will try to win for just the
second time in four career starts.
"We expect a lot on Preakness day," said trainer Reade Baker,
adding that Big Brown is beatable.
"He beat all those horses at Churchill Downs, but he didn't
beat us."
The field, from the rail out: Macho Again (Julien Leparoux,
20-1); Tres Borrachos (Tyler Baze, 30-1); Icabad Crane (Jeremy
Rose, 30-1); Yankee Bravo (Alex Solis, 15-1); Behindatthebar (David
Flores, 10-1); Racecar Rhapsody (Robby Albarado, 30-1); Big Brown
(Kent Desormeaux, 1-2); Kentucky Bear (Jamie Theriot, 15-1); Stevil
(John Velazquez, 30-1); Riley Tucker (Edgar Prado, 30-1); Giant
Moon (Ramon Dominguez, 30-1); Gayego (Mike Smith, 8-1); and Hey
Byrn (Charles Lopez, 20-1).

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)