Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown cruised to a 5 1/4-length victory today, in the $1 million Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Park, following early restraint and no urging from rider Kent Desormeaux. Co-owner Mike Ivarone was on hand to accept the Preakness trophy, after closing a stallion syndication deal on the colt yesterday, for an unconfirmed $50-plus million.

“It was an armchair ride,” said Desormeaux. “I was nervous the first quarter-mile. I had to slow him down to not pass the leaders (in the backstretch) and he responded, then when we rounded the turn into the stretch, I let him go.”

Big Brown broke alertly from the number seven post in the 13-horse field and was guided to the rail by Desormeaux, who eventually eased him back out and around leaders Gayego and Riley Tucker, before he turned him loose. Macho Again finished second and Icabad Crane was third in the 1 3/16-mile race.

“He’s a freak,” said trainer Rick Dutrow of the Boundary-sired colt. “He just keeps getting better and better.”

Big Brown paid $2.40, as shortest-priced Preakness favorite in Pimlico’s history. He is also only the fourth undefeated Derby and Preakness winner, following Majestic Prince, Seattle Slew and Smarty Jones. Of the former three, only Seattle Slew, in 1977, went on to win the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown. The last horse to win the Triple Crown was Affirmed, in 1978.