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Beer, Horses and Freedom: Drinking and the Preakness

I can find nowhere in the U.S. Constitution any promise of cheap beer. In fact, for many years, the Constitution banned any sort of beer at all. And yet, we Americans still consider easy access to cheap beer an inalienable right. Call it the pursuit of hoppiness.

That is why so much outrage greeted the news that attendees of this year's Preakness wouldn't be allowed to bring their own beer. I've never been to the Preakness but I always understood it be a sort of bacchanal. The infield was supposedly like something out of "Caligula": drunken orgies among sunburned Baltimoreans.

This year? Not so much.

It wasn't that you couldn't drink, of course, just that you had to drink what they were selling. And what they were selling was beer at $3.50 a pop. Now, that's more than you'd pay if you bought it and brought it, but it's half what you'd pay at Nationals Park or FedEx Field.

And while those on fixed incomes might not be able to afford a $21 six-pack versus a $5 six-pack, it seems they might be able to economize the rest of the month to save money for their brewfest.

It might be that horse-racing is so boring you need to medicate yourself, but the question remains: How many beers does any one person need in any one setting?

I suppose critics are angry and disappointed that the spirit of the Preakness -- what used to be called the "Freakness" -- is changing. Gone are the days when it was Woodstock without the self-control, an instant tent village with its own loose social mores (mores that used to be: more, more, more).

That's a Preakness that was founded on the principle of beer flowing as cheaply as water. For this year, at least, that Preakness was gone. Somehow I think people will still figure out a way to get squid-faced. I only wish some of that $3.50 beer could find its way down here.

By John Kelly  |  May 19, 2009; 9:05 AM ET
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Sounds like if they bring in the beers and slots and get rid of the horses the Preakness would be worthwhile.

Posted by: spidey103 | May 19, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

I missed the videos of drunken young men running across the roofs of lined-up porta-potties, then hitting the ground in a hard splat. But, for real, I think thing will iron itself out in another year ot two and a whole new crowd will attend.

Posted by: justhere | May 19, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Is it an inalienable right to bring your own water in? Water too was disallowed. How about your own oxygen? The Preakness is just a further demonstration that all roads lead to Rome. The decadence starts with mistreating the horses, heavy betting and alcohol consumption. In reality, all the partying can be accomplished without involving the innocent horses. The Preakness and horse racing can go to Hades.

Posted by: chopin224 | May 19, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Oh please drop the AR propoganda about mistreated horses. Chopin 224 have you ever worked with prey animals like horses, sheep or cows. Obviously not. You don't have a clue. Isn't time for you to fix your vegan lunch.

We attend the Gold Gup every Spring and Fall and ahve a great time.

Sorry you don't have the right to get stupid drunk and annoy other patrons.

Interesting that betting was up at the Preakness.

Looks like someone in MD should rent a big field and porta potties charge admission and let a bunch of drunken fools sue them.

Posted by: sheepherder | May 19, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Remember, we're talking about $3.50 for Bud and Bud Light. Bleech!

Posted by: jhtlag1 | May 19, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Remember, we're talking about $3.50 for Bud and Bud Light. Bleech!

Posted by: jhtlag1 | May 19, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

I never attended the Preakness because it was such a bacchanal.

I'm not a prude, but I don't understand why it's so important to go to a marquee horse race to drink yourself blind. You can do that at any bar in Baltimore just about any night of the week, generally without the possibility of popping up on national television.

It doesn't have to be opening day at Ascot, but it doesn't have to be "Woodstock without the self control", either.

If it bothers you that much, throw a party at home where you can drink as much or as little as you want. We throw Triple Crown parties (it changes out from year to year) that always empty out our stocked "beer fridge" *and* puts a serious dent in our hard alcohol supply. Yet somehow, no one ends up running around our house naked or jumping off our retaining wall. And as a bonus, we actually get to see the race on television.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | May 19, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Casinos survive on cheap drinks. Preakness and other Maryland horse racing venues should reconsider.

Posted by: shhhhh | May 19, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Since you have never been to the Preakness, you really shouldn't be commenting on it. And anyone who says horseracing is boring, clearly has not been to the track. Stick to whatever your expertise might be.

Posted by: LiveFree1 | May 19, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

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