OCEANPORT, N.J. (AP) — Big Brown refused to lose his final prep race for the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic.

The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner opened a big early lead and then held off a determined challenge by Proudinsky the entire length of the stretch in capturing the $500,000 Monmouth Stakes by a neck on Saturday.

It was the 3-year-old colt's seventh victory in eight starts and it has the potential to set up a spectacular Breeders' Cup Classic — Big Brown against Curlin, last year's Horse of the Year.

"I can't wait to run against Curlin," said Big Brown co-owner Michael Iavarone. "If he's gonna show up, he should show up in the Breeder' Cup. That's where we are going to be. That would be a great place for us to run against each other."

Curlin is set to run in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont later this month.

The Breeders' Cup Classic is Oct. 25 at Santa Anita in California.