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Preakness Mascot Kegasus Sparks Criticism

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — We’re less than two months away from the 136th running of the Preakness Stakes, but instead of the horses, it’s an ad for the infield party that has everyone talking.

Kai Jackson explains why some are concerned about the message Kegasus is sending.

One thing is clear: this new Preakness campaign is generating a lot of attention.

Those who flock to the infield on Preakness have long been tagged “party animals.”  Now the owners of the track have brought that term to life. 

To keep the horses running, the owners need the middle of the track full.  The track president will remind you that this one day gives Pimlico enough money to operate the rest of the year and they need people who may not ever see what’s coming down the home stretch or any straight line.

“The Preakness is our money maker.  It’s the most important day of racing in Maryland,” said Tom Chuckas, Maryland Jockey Club.

That’s where Kegasus comes in.  He’s half man and half horse.  He’s also a party animal whose name and demeanor says alcohol and lots of it is involved.  These ads are already being criticized as being tasteless and encouraging binge drinking.

“Here’s nipples or whatever he’s got, and a beer bong,” said Mike Gimbel, substance abuse expert.

“He’s edgy, catchy.  Some like him and some don’t.  Our goal is to get a younger demographic out there, which for years we’ve been accused of doing stodgy ads, not appealing to any kind of young person,” said Chuckas.  “I guess I follow the old axiom that controversy is good because you’re being talked about.  You’re in the public eye.”

In fact, he says by stopping BYOB two years ago, the infield now is safer and less drunk or dangerous.

“The occurrences in previous years were not there so I’m not glorifying drinking,” he said.

Right now, the tickets are $40 and stay that way up until a week before Preakness when they go up to $50 apiece.

Also sold at the infield are versions of their “Mug Club.”  For $20 more, you are sold a mug with unlimited refills of beer.  They are changing it this year with an eye to cut down on long lines.

The second jewel of horce racing’s Triple Crown is set for May 21.

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