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.
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.
onlineSee video from the announcement at baltimoresun.com/sports
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