The Maryland Jockey Club is expected to announce changes today to the infield spectator experience at this year's Preakness at Pimlico Race Course.
Although Jockey Club officials declined to be specific about those plans yesterday, an invitation to today's announcement implied some changes by advertising, "Preakness Infield Fest, a new way to party."
Pictured on the invitation was a cartoon horse in jockey silks strumming a guitar while astride what appears to be a volleyball. The volleyball is emblazoned with the date of this year's Preakness, May 16.
The Preakness infield has typically featured all-day partying by tens of thousands of mostly young fans. Infield spectators have been permitted to bring their own cans of beer and occasionally, the revelry has become rowdy, such as in 2007 and 2008 when some people dashed across the tops of portable toilets while others targeted them with what appeared to be full beer cans. The video of the 2007 event, now known as "The Running of the Urinals," was widely viewed on the Internet.
For the 2008 Preakness, the Jockey Club changed the alcohol policy for grandstand and clubhouse spectators, barring those patrons from bringing alcoholic beverages into the racetrack. All alcohol in those parts of the track had to be purchased from vendors. The policy for the infield, though, remained unchanged and infield spectators were allowed to bring in cans of beer last year.
During Preakness Day last year, 126 people were ejected from the infield, six were arrested (two for assault), and Pimlico staff made 17 calls for medical assistance to the infield, although there were no reported serious injuries.