The street sweepers rolled past the stables at Belmont Park more than an hour before Big Brown arrived, as workers hurried to finish painting his new home at Barn 2.

About two dozen photographers and TV cameramen lined up to wait for the horse that could become the first in three decades to win the Triple Crown.

"He's a rock star," said Michael Iavarone, the co-president of majority owner IEAH Stables. "You wouldn't expect anything less."

Big Brown seemed unimpressed by the people scurrying around him, his trademark calm on display, as he made the short walk from his van to his stall. His preparation for the Belmont Stakes began yesterday as he made the trip up from Maryland.

Big Brown's arrival around 2:20 p.m. had a red-carpet sort of feel. A police escort accompanied his van into the facility. A UPS truck and delivery men were on hand as part of the sponsorship agreement with the company he's named after.

"He's deserving," jockey Kent Desormeaux said. "He's that good."

The June 7 Belmont is still nearly 3 weeks away, but the chance to make history is getting Big Brown the celebrity treatment. If he follows his dominant victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness with another win, Big Brown would complete the first Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978.

"He is thoroughbred racing right now," Iavarone said. "Everybody's here to see him. Thoroughbred racing needs it. It's been 30 years, and we haven't had a horse like this in a very long time."


* Dr. Mary Scollay, a Florida veterinarian who conducted a national investigation into breakdowns involving racehorses, was tapped as Kentucky's first equine medical director, a post that will help advise on whether - and how - the state should impose steroid tests.

Scollay's duties will include recommending how to prevent illicit activities in horse medication and improving review procedures for autopsies. *