Preakness promoters ban outside beverages

Daily Record Business Writer
February 5, 2009 12:50 PM

The biggest change so far to this year’s Preakness doesn’t have anything to do with horses.

In an effort to change the image of the race’s wild and often unruly infield fan area, the Maryland Jockey Club announced Thursday that all outside beverages, including soda and water, will be banned from this year’s race.

Instead, the club is hoping new attractions, including Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famers ZZ Top, will keep the area youthful and fun — and civilized.

The infield, which drew more than half of last year’s Preakness crowd of 112,222, will be the first stop of the Toyota Pro Beach East Volleyball Tour’s season, with a daylong women’s tournament ending before the Preakness Stakes.

And with the addition of music acts ZZ Top, Grammy-nominated Buckcherry and a third local band to be announced, Preakness promoters hope to still attract a young audience while maintaining more control over the infield.

“Change is inevitable,” said Tom Chuckas, president of the Maryland Jockey Club, which operates Pimlico Race Course. “For the past couple of years we’ve been looking at this ... the goal here is to make Preakness the best experience for everyone.”