05/05/2008 12:00AM

Few horses to take on Big Brown in Preakness


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The flight to Baltimore may be a lonely one for Big Brown in the wake of his dominating victory in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.

As of Sunday morning, it appeared Big Brown would be the only member of the Derby field heading to Pimlico for the Preakness on May 17. Among the connections of horses who finished behind Big Brown in the Derby, only trainer Louie Roussel left the door open, saying he was leaning against bringing Recapturetheglory to the Preakness but that he wouldn’t make a decision until Monday.

Recapturetheglory finished fifth, nearly a dozen lengths behind Big Brown, after challenging for the lead around the second turn in the Derby.

The connections of the remainder of the Derby field indicated they would either give their horses some time off or await the Belmont in five weeks for another potential meeting with Big Brown.

Big Brown looked a picture of health as he walked the shedrow in Barn 22 at Churchill Downs on Sunday morning. Trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. said the undefeated and as yet still untested Big Brown came out of his 4 3/4-ength victory over the ill-fated filly, Eight Belles, in good order and that he would remain at Churchill Downs until May 14 before shipping to Maryland.

Among the 3-year-olds expected to be waiting for the Derby winner in the Preakness are Kentucky Bear and El Gato Malo, both of whom were excluded from the Derby lineup due to insufficient graded earnings.

Trainer Larry Jones was at his barn at Churchill Downs and addressed a handful of reporters about the tragedy that claimed the life of the filly Eight Belles moments after she crossed the finish line second in the Derby. Jones, who trained Eight Belles, reiterated his comments of the night before that he did not believe the racing surface was in any way responsible for her injury -- she broke her front ankles while galloping out -- and said he felt sorry for the connections of the Derby winner considering that much of the attention that would normally have been focused on them was shifted to Eight Belles and Jones immediately after the race.

-- Additional reporting by Jay Privman