Sure, Big Brown was a late arrival at the Preakness. No one will hold it against the Kentucky Derby winner if he's first to finish on Saturday.
The colt who racing fans can't wait to see run in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown kept them waiting Wednesday. By the time Big Brown was led off the van and into famed Stall 40 nearly three hours after his scheduled arrival, he was already installed as the 1-2 favorite for Saturday's Preakness.
"I don't know of anybody who can run with him," co-owner Michael Iavarone said.
No other horse earned quite the entrance, either. Big Brown is no longer an ordinary horse _ he's a Derby champ and a victory at Pimlico could set up a Triple Crown try three weeks later in the Belmont Stakes.
Big Brown had a police escort for the 30-minute ride from the airport to Pimlico. Trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. skipped the draw in Baltimore and took the rain delayed flight with Big Brown.
The trainer and his colt were greeted by a horde of media and a few fans that straggled along the stakes barn waiting for a glimpse of Big Brown. Big Brown looked relaxed in his stall as he munched on some hay.
"He's a big shot now," Dutrow said.
Those racing fans might as well catch him on the track while they still can. They might not have much longer to watch him race, especially if he wins the Triple Crown at the Belmont. Iavarone told reporters after the Preakness draw that the chances of Big Brown running as a 4-year-old were "none."
Iavarone also said he could announce Big Brown's future stud career as early as Thursday. Big Brown could earn big bucks for his team: Smarty Jones, who won the first two legs of the Triple Crown in 2004, was retired to Three Chimney's Farm in Kentucky where he commands six figures for a stud fee.
Big Brown is 4-0 in his career, having won by a combined total of more than 33 lengths.
Dutrow planned to gallop Big Brown on Thursday and Friday, and will run him on a "little blowout" on Saturday. 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.
"We've got a good post," Dutrow said. "We're not going to cry if we get beat because of the post."
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.
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.
"I'm dreaming of the Belmont," Dutrow said.
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 36 3/4 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.
"I'd say realistically, everybody in the race, except for Big Brown, are all very equal and could run second or third," said jockey Jeremy Rose, who won in 2005 with Afleet Alex and will ride Icabad Crane on Saturday. "I think Big Brown is the standout. But that's why they run them. Maybe he doesn't run his race. But on paper, I think we're as good as everyone else in the race."
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).
AP Racing Writer Beth Harris contributed to this report.