Horse race or horse’s arse: Is Kegasus smart for Baltimore and Preakness Day?

May 18, 2011 | Nestor Aparicio

tent in the middle of a frat party? (Hey, maybe they do?)

What’s the upside, really, with Kegasus? How many MORE drunken fools will make their way to the infield this year to revive (or at least wish they could revive) the running of the urinals? And how many potential Train and Bruno Mars fans might decide to skip an event, whose patron saint might be on his 12th cocktail by the time bets are down on the running of the big race?

But as we all know, no one in the infield is there to see a horse — not even as one as legendary as Kegasus.

As I’ve stated many, many, many times – I like beer. A lot.

And I like girls. A lot.

And I love the Preakness for all that it is. And I’ve done it all (and I mean EVERYTHING…wink, wink) in the middle of that infield over the years. I don’t come bearing a cross and providing a communion wafer on the issue of partying at the Preakness but at 42 I do come with basic common sense and civic pride for the people who are running this event on behalf of the community.

This is dumb.

And they better hope nothing stupid or unthinkable happens.

Like a drunk guy jumping the fence to punch a horse. (That could NEVER happen, right? Who would be that dumb or drunk?)

Or that the electricity goes out and everyone goes nuts? (That could NEVER happen, either right?)

Or that it rains and the event turns into a gropathon or an event where drunk, 16-year olds run across urinals and it’s – gasp – captured on video on the internet?

That’s the kind of thing they’ve been trying to AVOID for 15 years while allegedly building a newer, stronger brand of “family entertainment” and “an event Baltimore can be proud to host each year.”

At least that was the message two years ago, when they shut down the far-less-profitable bringing in of the beverages and have now opted to open the kegs for profit. (And, if I were them I would’ve done the same thing.)

I was also out there two years ago (and don’t lie and say you were there because you weren’t) amidst the “friends and family” Preakness that drew about 3,000 into the vast green grass of Northern Parkway when they used the Orioles attendance counters imported from the Florida presidential election of 2000 to tell the world there were 77,000 people there. (By the way, that’s an official cheap shot and low blow at the Orioles AND the Maryland Jockey Club.)

But seriously? What if a kid dies on Saturday? What if something goes wrong and alcohol is involved and it all comes back to what kind of an event the Maryland Jockey Club wants to host for Baltimore? And what kind of an event they marketed and advertised over the past two months?

It’s no secret that the Preakness has a well-earned reputation as a massive party spot, one that my friends and I worked very hard to cultivate when we were in our 20’s rolling in garbage cans full of beer, fried chicken and our boom boxes from Dundalk. I’m hardly a kill joy and I don’t really have any ethical issue with getting hammered on Preakness day in the infield. Privately, I encourage it. We always called it a “right of passage” and the pictures I have of myself, friends, bare-chested girls and various other “rumors” (and even some facts) that would disqualify me from ever running for public office.

In the 1990’s I ran party buses to the Preakness every year and parked my van in the middle of the mess. Every year by 3 p.m. when dozens of drunks were tossing beer cans in every direction and pissing on my van, I had the privilege of watching the great unwashed leave the mess behind. I never got to pull my van outta there before 8 p.m. so I got to see EVERYTHING, every year for a good two hours after the party.

It’s a lot of fun. There’s a lot of drinking. There’s a lot of nudity.

But that doesn’t mean it should be the focus of the marketing campaign for the future of the Preakness.

At some point the Maryland Jockey Club should be promoting the pageantry and history of the race, the Woodlawn Vase and the significance of the Preakness as a source of civic pride.

Instead, they’ve turned it into a frat party with a license.

It’s always been that — but now I fear that’s all it’ll ever be…

And I’m not so sure the horse racing industry wouldn’t want to see this race moved to Florida or California where they could make the Preakness a “prestige event” not one to tell their major sponsors to skip because it’s a black eye on how the entire “Sport of Kings” wants to be marketed with its Triple Crown series.

This, to me, is common sense.

But clearly Kegasus is about dollars and cents.