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Beer Ban Doesn't Stop Derby Fans

The all-day infield party at the Preakness Stakes may have been a dud on Saturday because of a new ban on bring-your-own beer, but it turns out that Churchill Downs doesn't allow spectators to carry in booze either. And 60,000 fans still cram the infield for the Kentucky Derby.

"We have never allowed alcohol to be brought in," said John Ascher, vice-president of communications for the track. But he added with a chuckle,"That's not to say it hasn't been smuggled in."

Smuggling efforts are part of Derby lore: Security workers have found beer embedded in hollow-out loaves of bread, and buried in the soil on the infield by fans who come to other races months before the Derby, hoping they remember where they hit the stash.."There's been a lot of imagination," Ascher said.

After the terror attacks of Sept 11,2001, coolers containing anything were prohibited as a security measure. But the crowd bounced back, Ascher said. The cooler ban was lifted this year.

At Pimlico, home of the Preakness, owners said yesterday they have no plans to allow people to bring beer into the infield again.

"I don't see us going back to last year's policy," said Maryland Jockey Club President Tom Chuckas, who ordered the alcohol ban after years of fans' drunken revelry, breast-baring and races across the tops of portable toilets. "The overriding tenor of the comments was that the mood in the infield was very positive."

By Lisa Rein  |  May 19, 2009; 12:40 PM ET
Categories:  Lisa Rein  
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The numbers will increase as people learn that the drunken losers are gone.

Posted by: NeverLeft | May 20, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

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