AT PREAKNESS, INFIELD IS FAST LANE Cloudy skies can't darken fans' spirit


It was near 10 yesterday morning, and beer cans already were sailing through the foggy skies. Rock music blared. Women wore bikinis in rainy, overcast weather, while some people huddled under blankets.

Two bands -- one named Brian Jack and the other the Great Train Robbery -- were scheduled to play. The leader for Great Train Robbery set the tone when he began playing "Life in the Fast Lane" and later welcomed the crowd to "Budweiser City."


Leroy Clark, 22, a brick mason from Dundalk, wanted to put on his best face forward for the crowd of 50,000 that jammed the Preakness infield. So he went to bed early Friday night.

He came to the track around 9:15 yesterday morning sporting a Mohawk haircut with a skull carved in one side of his head, a bullet hole in the other. He had inserted a safety pin through his eyelid and had chained three more to it.

Ditto for his nose. He had four dangling from his left ear.

"I'm here for the party. It's just one huge beach party without the beach," said Clark. "I have been coming for seven years and didn't see a horse until last year. I think I've seen one today. I wouldn't sit up in the grandstands because I can't get nice like I want and talk to some real fine babes."

There was no quiche on the infield menu.

It was totally blue-collar, bring your own grub. Beer, chips, cold cuts, beer, cold pizza, pretzels, soda, beer, apples, oranges, beer.

"It's definitely party food, something quick that you bring with you," said Jennifer Nelson, 22. "It's pretty hard to afford some of the food that they sell here."

Hot dogs went for $2, sodas for $1.50 and cheese fries for $4. A pack of cigarettes cost $3.

Souvenirs were just as expensive. A white satin Preakness jacket went for $70 while sweat shirts cost $25 and adult T-shirts $15.

"My best advice is just to drink," said Deborah Kepniss, 20, a New Jersey resident and student at Towson State.

In addition to the Preakness race itself, the biggest infield attraction may have been the mud diving act by Terry Williams, 26, a maintenance man from Fells Point.

Williams posted sign by a puddle, daring anyone to slide for $5. When no one took him up on the offer, Williams did the head slide himself.

Pete Rose would have been proud.

Williams drew a standing ovation only to have Paul Galindo, 27, of Baltimore, encourage another slide by putting a dollar in the mud. Williams dove again. More money came along, and onlookers began pouring beer over Williams.

By the time Williams had finished, he dove four times for $20 and about a case of beer.

"Was that great or what?" said Galindo. "After he got muddy the first time, you could see he was in it for the money."

A bare chested and shivering Williams said: "I'm not putting on a shirt. This mud will get hard and I will be like statue. This is my first year at the Preakness but I'm going to do it again next year. Even if it's sunny out, I'm bringing my own pail of water. I hope this money isn't taxable. I may even get my own show from this."


What race?

What horses?

Let's just say most of the infield fans don't have the knowledge of a D. Wayne Lukas. Most of them don't know who D. Wayne Lukas is.

Name five horses running in the Preakness Race yesterday.

Kermit Gamble, 22, a stockbroker from Wheaton: "Hey, I can name all 20. Wait a minute, or is there 14? Well, there's Hammer's horse, Dance Floor. And then there's Something, Something . . . . something like a horse called Something Going North. And then there's Arazi. No, that's right, he only ran in the Kentucky Derby."

Around midday, the spot-a-pot lines were almost 15 deep, but Ted Davis, of Denville, N.J., and Kepniss offered this advice.

"Always work your way down because the lines seem to get smaller in the middle," said Davis. "That's always been my strategy."

Kepniss said: "I stole some toilet paper early. That way no one will stay in there long."

According to Harris, Nelson and Melody Powers, 24, the lines became a great place to meet guys.

"You're just there waiting so it's a good social atmosphere," said Nelson, who along with her three companions set up a rating shop on a corner. "You get a chance to talk and look over the guys. I like guys with tattoos, long hair, and who dress well."

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