Preakness promoters wooing back drinkers - er, crowds

The advertising brains at Preakness have drummed up a doosey this year. In a move that seems like a disproportionate apology for banning outside beverages in the infamous infield a few years ago, promoters are introducing a new mascot for the infield this year: Kegasus.

Half-man, half-horse, this lengendary figure (whose resume includes posing for romance novel covers and starring in an Old Spice television commercial) is sworn to return the Preakness infield to the joyous drunkfest so enjoyed by under-aged college kids the world over.

OK, maybe we exaggerate a little. But not by much. Here's the line from the Maryland Jockey Club's Tom Chuckas on Kegasus' outreach:

“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 said in a statement. “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.”

In other words, Kegasus is a big, fat 'mea culpa' by the jockey club for its attempt in 2009 to clean up the infield's act by banning outside beverages. No more running of the porta-Johns, no more coolers full of beer and definitely no more wearing hard hats to avoid the random beer bombs. Infield is now a family affair, officials said at the time.

Well the joke was on them when attendance at the infield tanked that year. At last year's Preakness organizers loosened up, introducing drink specials and all-you-can-drink deals.

But dude -- Kegasus? Really?

You can decide for yourself if Kegasus, the brainchild of D.C. ad firm Elevation Ltd., successfully walks the line of "lame enough to be cool," or is just plain lame by attending one of his many appearances leading up to the May 21 race in Baltimore. First appearance is Thursday, Orioles Opening Day at Camden Yards.