Threats of a trip to the steam pot worked about as well in yesterday's Media Crab Derby as threats of a trip to the glue factory might work in the real Preakness.
The fact is: Blue crabs can't race.
They can pinch. They can blow spit bubbles. They can steam up red.
But make 'em race, as the Lexington Market did for its second annual Preakness Week crab derby, and the Chesapeake's finest tend to make like deadbeats. Nonetheless, about a dozen local radio, television and newspaper personalities each picked a live crab from Faidley's Seafood, then proceeded to shout, clap and otherwise cajole their crabs -- however s-l-o-w-l-y -- toward the finish line.
"I thought if he smelled it, he'd be scared and run away from it," explained V-103 morning deejay Jean Ross, who was sprinkling Old Bay on her crab -- to no discernible effect.
Winning the race, rather, was Lite 102's Mary Anne Perry, who brought her back ground as the station's traffic reporter to the race. But, modestly enough, Ms. Perry gave all the credit to her crab. "I just picked the best crab," she said.
"I picked the turbo model," said John Davis, host of Maryland Public Radio's "MotorWeek" show. (Turbo or not, his crab apparently was a lemon, coming in second in its heat and thus not even making the final race.)
While the humans won the prizes -- $300 to the first place finisher's favorite charity -- the crabs had less to look forward to.
All were headed for the steam pot, said John Richter Jr., of Faidley's.
"Even the winners lose," he concluded.
Crabs figured elsewhere on yesterday's Preakness week events, with John Shields demonstrating recipes and autographing his book, "The Chesapeake Bay Crab Cookbook," at the Inner Harbor's Books for Cooks store.
But at Bud Light Nights on Water Street, beer rather than crabs was the focus. In fact, revelers at this outdoor party on the cobblestone alley lined with clubs and restaurants are expected to go through more than 100 kegs of the stuff by the time the weeklong event ends, according to the beer distributor.
"The crowds have been a little better this year than last year, because the weather's been better," said Joe Moneymaker of Winner Distributing Co., whose workers were unloading keg after keg of Bud Light as musicians began warming up for the after-work crowd.
"I'm not much for the bar scene, but I made it a point to catch this tonight," said Joel Graziano, who was enjoying a drink with a friend,John Vatenos. "I like being outdoors."
Mr. Graziano, a physical therapist, is going to the Preakness with his brothers and friends from his Loyola College days. "We always went when I was in school. It's fun out in the infield -- even though there are 80,000 people there, you always run into someone you know," Mr. Graziano said.