Looks like the Preakness Stakes has ditched the keg-happy ad pitch of prior years and is going straight for the emotional jugular, starting with a four-minute marketing video reminding us all of the tradition and history of the middle jewel of horse racing's Triple Crown.
The video kicks off with voiceover old radio broadcasts and sweeping images of Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. Then the inspirational orchestral music comes in, and there are plenty of scenes of women in those giant hats, groomsmen splashing water on backlit horses and galloping thoroughbreds in front of a backdrop of roaring crowds.
This is the new Preakness -- albeit a throwback to days gone by when the race was the place to be seen every year and the infield wasn't a drunkfest but a place for folks to shmooze and mingle. The Maryland Jockey Club, which runs the Preakness, began making this shift four years ago when they banned the BYOB policy for the infield for the 2009 Preakness. The move nearly killed attendance in the infield, where the jockey club also began hosting live entertainment and a volleyball tournament, but since that year attendance has rebounded.
Still, with the introduction of the infield mascot Kegasus in 2011 (half beer-guzzling dude, half horse), it seemed the jockey club and its marketing team was backtracking on its previous pledge to class up the joint. That marketing campaign seemed to portray Preakness as the backdrop to a Bud Light commercial and Kegasus became the butt of a lot of jokes.
Contrast that against quotes from longtime Preakness-goers who look like they place $2,000 bets without batting an eye and one woman who says the shopping there is a must (they have shopping in the infield?) and it seems like the 2013 Preakness Stakes is trying to take a classier direction than in years past.
Tickets are also on sale early and General Infield tickets are $40 and MUG Club passes are $60 through the end of the year. Prices go up by $10 on Jan. 1.