"The rest of the world doesn't let you cart in coolers of beer," Hurwitz said. "I don't think this is something people aren't used to."

The new Pimlico rules follow similar guidelines at the other two Triple Crown races, the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes. The Derby also has an infield area, but Churchill Downs has long prohibited all beverages in cans and bottles, coolers and even backpacks. Belmont Park does not have an infield, but it does have a public party area behind the grandstand called "The Backyard," where patrons are permitted to bring soft drinks but not alcohol.

For the Preakness, infield fans will be able to bring in coolers and backpacks containing food. Coolers, which will be inspected, can be no larger than 28 inches long, 15 inches wide and 17 inches high. Other items permitted in the infield include lightweight plastic lawn chairs, beach blankets, sunscreen lotion, cell phones, cameras (up to 35 mm), camcorders and binoculars. Top-of-the-stretch seats, which are clustered near the starting line in the infield and cost $110, have a smaller limit on coolers.

While the new beer policy could affect attendance in the infield, any negative effect on wagering for Preakness Day is likely to be minimal. Although infield spectators make up about half of the total attendance, the betting from infield patrons amounts to only 5 percent of the total wagered at Pimlico on Preakness Day.

The hope among Jockey Club officials is that the change in the character of the infield will attract more people in their late 20s and early 30s and that some of those new attendees might become loyal fans. Still, there are those who lament the loss of the Preakness' freewheeling days.

Dan Mox, 42, of Pasadena was attending the races at Laurel Park yesterday and said the new beer policy would reduce fighting and make the Preakness a safer event. But then he turned nostalgic.

"I used to go religiously," he said. "We used to drag our beer in coolers. I always remember the Preakness as being open about that kind of stuff. It's tradition. I prefer the old way."

Baltimore Sun reporter Patrick Gutierrez contributed to this article.

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See video from the announcement at baltimoresun.com/sports


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