Racing and infield debauchery go hand in hand

May, 19, 2011
5/19/11
7:13
PM CT
Parties. Excessive drinking. Rowdy behavior. Arrests. Injuries. More beer. Thrown beer cans (some still full). Even worse behavior.

All I can say is, “What a bunch of rednecks.”

I’m talking, of course, about horse racing. The sport of kings. Specifically, this Saturday’s Preakness at Pimlico in Baltimore. It’s the second leg of horse racing’s heralded Triple Crown.

What did you think I was talking about?

It seems that in an effort to increase attendance, the folks at Pimlico are promoting wild, drink-yourself-into-submission infield partying, complete with a bottomless beer mug. After attendance dropped in 2009 to 77,850 after topping 100,000 people for eight straight years, the folks in the tony, refined, urbane world of horse racing decided to do something about it.

In 2010, they utilized a controversial ad campaign, “Get Your Preak On.” They also added the Mug Club, which gives each person admission to the infield for the Preakness and all the beer they can drink.

In 2011, Mug Club is back, along with a mascot named Kegasus. That’s a half-man, half-horse and a mixed message (can you say “mixed message” when the message is clear?). This year’s controversial ad campaign is, “Lord of the Infield-Fest.” Why, they are even holding concerts in the infield, pro beach volleyball featuring scantily-clad women and -- yikes! -- a bikini contest.

Can you imagine what the ink-stained scribes from the media would say if Texas Motor Speedway adopted such a campaign? “Why the audacity of those inbred, uneducated, unsophisticated, blue collar types,” the media would shout, as they take another draw from their cigarette while spilling gravy from their free press room meal on their gimme shirt while complaining about their free parking space.

But horse racing is, well, a horse of a different color. Where’s the outrage?

“All indications are [Kagasus] is really popular with the folks that go into the bars; that’s the people that we want to get in the infield,” said Preakness spokesman Mike Gathagan to USAToday. “We never said it’s not a party… It’s still the biggest party in Baltimore.”

And then he uttered the get out of jail free catch-all pass: “And you have to be responsible.”

Why? The folks at Pimlico aren’t being responsible. And the media aren’t holding them responsible, either.

But, for the sake of the auto racing’s reputation, please be clear that it’s a “horse racing track.”

I would never want our sport’s reputation tarnished by being confused with horse racing.

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