05/17/2008 12:00AM

Big Brown cruises in Preakness

Barbara D. Livingston

Big Brown will head to New York with a chance to become the first Triple Crown winner in 30 years after cruising to an easy 5 1/4-length victory over Macho Again in Saturday's Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.

As was the case in the Kentucky Derby two weeks earlier, jockey Kent Desormeaux kept Big Brown wide and off the early pace set by Gayego. Big Brown launched his bid while remaining wide into the stretch, quickly surged to a long lead once set down turning for home, and was being geared down while cruising to his fifth straight victory.

"He just keeps on getting better," said trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. "He keeps showing everybody he's special. He should have plenty left off this race to win the Belmont."

Macho Again outfinished Ichabod Crane while never threatening the winner.

Big Brown paid $2.40 as the shortest-priced favorite in Pimlico history. He returned $2.60 to show.

"I asked for his stride at the corner and he just set sail, then I just reeled him in near the wire," said Desormeaux. "It was like deja vu from the Kentucky Derby."