I’ll Have Another may have won the big stakes this past weekend, but there’s so much more to the Preakness than winning. Here, a breakdown of Infieldfest 2012 at the second race of the Triple Crown.
Best Accessory (Female): Big hats. Three in our group bought into the trend, myself included, and though we worried that sartorial choice might be Derby- or grandstand-exclusive, it turns out the large chapeau is a must at the Preakness.
Best Accessory (Male): Bow ties, especially when worn with pastel pants or suits. That these guys didn’t pass out from heat exhaustion is a testament both to the human spirit and devotion to fashion.
Best Idea We Didn’t Have: Vodka Watermelon. The guards were diligent in ensuring no one brought in alcohol, but the way our neighbors were sucking down excess watermelon juice from ziplocks tells me they outsmarted The Man. Bravo.
Best Throwback (High School): Attending a Maroon 5 concert. Albeit in half-volume voices that didn’t want to admit they knew all the words, every one of the thousands there was singing along, and not just to the Wiz Khalifa duet.
Best Throwback (College): Day drinking. We arrived at Pimlico about 9:45, and were hardly the first people there. Around 10 we toasted our bottomless fluorescent Mug Club mugs and set the day off.
Worst Pick-up Line: “You’re not very pretty.” Infieldfest had no shortage of half-witted drunken pick-up attempts (the most popular seemed to be “Are you ladies from Baltimore?”), but this one takes the cake. It was supposedly meant to get girls to talk to the deliverer, however I suspect most of them say something along the lines of, “Fuck off.”
Funny Tee Shirt Stakes – Win: “I’ll Have Another… and another, and another.” A clever play on the Derby winner’s name, worn by an entire dedicated group (who I imagine wound up winning big later!)
Funny Tee Shirt Stakes – Place: “I’ll Have Another… cookie” featuring a graphic of Cookie Monster. These were a little random, but notable for featuring my sister Allison’s beloved Sesame Street character.
Funny Tee Shirt Stakes – Show: Adam Levine of Maroon 5 in a maroon tee shirt. We didn’t note this until that night as we collapsed onto air mattresses and couches, but at that point it seemed the heighth of ironic humor.
Most Elusive Mythical Creature: Kegasus. The offical Preakness mascot is half-horse, half-man, and all champ. He was supposedly in the Infield all day, but among some 100,000 bipeds, we were unable to spot the mythic beast. Maybe next year!
Best Bet, So to Speak: This one goes to me, for picking the top three horses in the Preakness Stakes (I’ll Have Another, Bodemeister, and Creative Cause). Unfortunately I only bet for two of them to take 1st and 2nd, which evinces either a lesson about taking big risks or an endorsement of gambling addiction.
Random Camaraderie Stakes – Win: Those in line for the shuttle bus vs. Line cutters. After the final race, tens of thousands of people poured out of Pimlico and onto the streets of Baltimore. While some hopped into cars or party buses, many of us were left to wait for an impossibly tiny fleet of shuttles to ferry us to the Light Rail station. Of course, as in any big event, there are some people who are better than others and impose their superiority by walking straight to the front of the line. With no competent police officers to regulate this behavior, our section of the line took action into our own hands when a trio of drunk young girls stumbled up the street past us. A few dozen voices raised the chant “Cutters! Line cutting! Back of the line! BACK OF THE LINE! BACKOFTHELINE!” until said girls were cowed (almost) into stunned submission. One fired back with venom, “I’m not trying to cut the line!” She wound up sitting across from us. (Also on that bus ride, an annoying man from our line tried at length to start the nonsensical chant “Bitch and Whine!”, to which everyone responded with “SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!” in the exact tone of Jack and Rose on the Titanic when that idiot tells them they have to pay for damaging property on the sinking ship.)
Random Camaraderie Stakes – Place: Thirsty Mug Club Members vs. Infieldfest officials. Some background: Mug Club was an unlimited beer situation attendees pre-purchased with their tickets; you got a neon mug and free refills all day long. Though the big race wasn’t till 6:20 and there was yet another after that, beer began running low around 5. Understandably, the throngs in line (including me and my sister) didn’t cotton to this. As a group, we began clanking our plastic mugs on the barricades and chanting “We want beer!” in a more organized way than most political rallies, which says a lot about our generation and country. But hey, this is America, and unlimited beer should mean unlimited beer.
Random Camaraderie Stakes – Show: Drunken sunburnt gamblers in the Mutuel lines circa 6 pm. As the post time for the big race approached, many crowded into line for the betting windows. I’ve been to my share of races before, and hardcore gamblers do not take well to things like talking to them, and certainly not to asking to view their race forms, which my sister and I did to the guy behind us. Instead of the usual gamblers’ sneer, this guy gave his form to us to hold a minute while he wandered away, then returned to take the place we’d held for him in line. He and others around us began amiably discussing who everyone was betting and – of all things! – wishing one another luck! It was a great sense of community you can only find at all-day festivals like these.
Worst Life Experience. Ever.: Exiting the Preakness. On the way up from Annapolis, where we were staying over, my group took a shockingly inexpensive cab, wanting to make the trip in quick and painless so we could maximize our Preakness fun. On the way out, however, we queued with the thousands taking public transportation, much to everyone everywhere’s dismay. Firstly, the entrance to the Infield was about 3/4 of the way around the track from where the shuttles were, which left our tired, dehydrated asses to walk all the way around down a, shall we say “not affluent” street filled with locals proffering $1 waters, $2 beers, $5 usage of their homes’ bathrooms, and probably-unsafe-but-still-tempting rides. Once on the main street, we established ourselves in the line for shuttle buses. As I’ve mentioned, cutting was rampant and infuriating, but that’s not all. There were also the obnoxious drunks (see: that guy trying to start the “Bitch and Moan” chant) and those with small bladders (see: the guy literally three feet behind me peeing unapologetically into the bushes). The entire wait took upwards of an hour, plus insane traffic while aboard the bus (plus the added fury of seeing the line cutters get on that same bus), not to mention the train itself plus a drive home from the station. Altogether leaving Pimlico took upwards of 3 hours (it was about 1 to get there) and the Baltimore transit authorities and Preakness committees alike came off looking like huge a-holes.
Best New Friend: While waiting hopelessly and helplessly for the shuttles, we attempted in vain to contact our cab driver from that morning, Luis, on the outside chance he might still be on the clock and desirous of picking us up in Baltimore, though based out of Annapolis. I got as far as identifying myself as one of those girls he drove to Pimlico that morning before we were disconnected. At least we’d tried, we thought as we resigned ourselves to the shuttle. However, later, while on that shuttle, my phone rang with Luis’s number! Allison answered and spoke with him; his phone hadn’t been charged properly, thus our disconnection, but he wanted to make sure we were okay and didn’t need a ride. We will definitely be requesting Luis for a round-trip at Preakness 2013.
Best Sunburn: Danielle, for sheer volume. Alli, for slightly red decolletage after her proselytizing about the importance of protecting one’s decolletage.
Worst Sunburn: Me, for my hands. Besides being a flaming crimson hue, any amateur CSI viewer could surmise from the distribution that I’d been holding my mug with my right hand, so that only the thumb and inner side caught the sun, and had my left hand largely resting on backs of chairs and such, as only the back and first knuckles became burnt.
My Belmont Picks: A lot of people were counting out I’ll Have Another after his Kentucky Derby win because a) he’d probably worn himself out and b) because the Preakness is a shorter race, which might not play well to his last-minute surge of speed. However, he took *another*, and I think he’ll do it again. If I’ll Have Another puts on one more devastatingly dramatic performance at Belmont, he’ll be the first Triple Crown Winner in 34 years. What’s not exciting about that? Many decried my choice of him at the Preakness for reasons stemming from the lameness of rooting for winners (this is the same principle that makes it “cooler” to be a Red Sox fan than a Yankees fan), but I picked the top 3 with that strategy, and I’m sticking with them. So I’m calling it here: I’ll Have Another, Bodemeister, and Creative Cause (Alli’s pick!)
Some would advise you, “Don’t bet on the horses,” but I’d say if you do, box a trifecta on those three. You’re welcome.