By Joe Drape (The New York Times, 5/17/2011)
Excessive drinking at the Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown, reached its nadir in 2007 when videos of young men racing atop portable toilets in the Pimlico Race Course infield as beer cans rained on them went viral. There was safety to consider, and the threat of lawsuits loomed.
So in 2009, the Maryland Jockey Club, which runs the race, banned the tradition of allowing patrons to bring their own beer. It was a marketing disaster. Instead of the 112,222 people who showed up the year before on race day, only 77,850 came.
The race organizers decided they needed to, well, correct their overcorrection. Two years ago, the racetrack engaged an advertising agency and gave it a mission: make the Preakness entertaining for young people again.
So this year, Kegasus — an ad gimmick that was half a beer-bellied man, half a horse — was named Lord of the Infieldfest. He has trumpeted $20 bottomless beer mugs, as well as a bikini contest and big-name musicians.
His message is summed up with a catchphrase: “A 10-hour party to celebrate a two-minute race. Now we’re talking.”
Continue reading “At Preakness, Not Everybody’s Idea of Fun” at The New York Times.