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In a bid to attract young people to its Preakness InFieldFEST, the Maryland Jockey Club announced today a new mascot: a tweeting, beer-swilling centaur called Kegasus.

Kegasus, described as a "manimal" in the press release, is the cornerstone of the event's new advertising campaign, also unveiled today, which features the slogan "Be Legendary."

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Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas credited demographics with the campaign's creation, because everyone knows young people love nothing more than drinking beer, tweeting, and horse-man hybrids.

"In order to reach our highly targeted younger demographic, we have realized we need to go where they go and do what they do," the press release quoted Chuckas saying.

Oy, the stuff that's blamed on the young. First the fall of Four Loko, and now this.

The press release continues.

"The humorous nature of the advertisements and their inclusive message are just two of the many added bonuses." Inclusive message? of whom? shirtless centaurs? The full thing, after the jump.

The ad campaign follows the announcement early March that Bruno Mars and Train would headline the music stage of InFieldFEST, now in its third year, at the 136th Preakness Stakes, the middle jewel of the Triple Crown.

The new ad campaign, which also features a stale slogan - "Be Legendary" - that sounds lifted from an old Wheaties campaign will last an inexplicable eight weeks leading up to and around Preakness.

Kegasus will appear on all media platforms, including Twitter and YouTube, where he'll desperately try to go as viral as "Running the Toilets." NB to the Jockey Club: you forgot to put Kegasus on Tumblr, formspring, and Etsy.

Some poor actor will also be hired to make occasional promotional appearances at sports bars across the city. His first is at the Orioles home opener. 

The campaign is a strange choice for the Jockey Club, which can't seem to find a winning dynamic for the infield events surrounding the centuries-old Preakness Stakes.

In the past, it was criticized for enabling drunken debauchery at the infield and later for scaling that back by preventing people from bringing in their own beer to Pimlico Race Track.When that strategy backfired, it rolled out a new ad campaign that revolved around the phrase "Get Your Preak On" that was then criticized as being too sexually suggestive.

Both that campaign and Kegasus were conceived by the geniuses at DC-based firm Elevation, LTD, which have produced ads for such notorious party animals as the American Lung Association and Michael Bloomberg.

With Kegasus, though, they're attempting to strike an awkward balance between order and edginess, much like a dad organizing a kegger for his son's 21st. They might have been better served with a friendly drunk, say, Danny DeVito as his Phil the satyr from Disney's "Hercules."

InFieldFEST takes place May 21 at the the public Infield of Pimlico Race Course.

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The Kegasus press release from the Maryland Jockey Club, a gem:

MARYLAND JOCKEY CLUB LAUNCHES 2011 INFIELDFEST ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN
MJC urges fans to "Be Legendary" at Preakness InfieldFest

Baltimore, MD (Tuesday, March 29, 2011) —The Maryland Jockey Club (MJC) today launched the 2011 Preakness InfieldFest campaign, "The Legend of Kegasus". Kegasus is the Lord of the InfieldFest and a modern twist on a mythical centaur. Serving as the voice and personality for all advertisements, Kegasus can be found in all of the campaign's components to include television, radio, out-of-home and web.

"We are excited to be launching this campaign and look forward to watching this image grow throughout the course of its eight-week run," Tom Chuckas, Maryland Jockey Club president said. "Kegasus speaks directly to our InfieldFest demographic with his no-nonsense personality and total embodiment of a good time."

The 136th running of the $1 million Preakness® Stakes (Grade I), the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, is May 21 at Pimlico Race Course.

The InfieldFest party at The Preakness Stakes is legendary and continues to grow. The Maryland Jockey Club aims to spark added interest by empowering a legendary centaur – half horse, half man – as the campaign's spokesperson. The humorous nature of the advertisements and their inclusive message are just two of the many added bonuses.

The MJC also anticipates this party "manimal" to come to life outside of traditional media. Kegasus will be appearing at various grassroots events around Baltimore leading up to the Preakness. He will be making his in-person debut at pregame festivities for the Baltimore Orioles home opener on Monday, April 4. He will also be posting web videos to his own YouTube channel, and yes, Kegasus even tweets.

"In order to reach our highly targeted younger demographic, we have realized we need to go where they go and do what they do," Chuckas added. "By launching a robust social media presence and appearing at downtown bars, Kegasus will have the opportunity to interact directly with his fans and get them excited about this year's InfieldFest – the premier celebration in the Mid-Atlantic region."

Earlier this month it was announced that Grammy Award Winning artists Bruno Mars and Train were to headline the InfieldFest concert, with Phil Vassar, Puddle of Mudd and local favorites Mr. Greengenes on the Jägermeister stage. The popular MUG Club returns, offering fans a bottomless mug all day long for one all-inclusive price.

For the second consecutive year, the MJC has tapped Elevation, Ltd. to develop and execute its InfieldFest advertising campaign. "We are honored to once again work hand-in-hand with the Maryland Jockey Club to create a campaign that galvanizes our target audience and brings excitement to this legendary event," Jim Learned, president of Elevation said.

Photo: Kegasus twitter account

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