Pass the Keg ... and Make a Bet While You're Here

The Preakness Stakes must be just around the corner judging by the uproar over the Maryland Jockey Club’s latest advertising and marketing campaign. Love it.

This year’s campaign, featuring the half-man-half-horse called “Kegasus,” drew instant response from all corners, including one Maryland lawmaker who publicly stated he believes it’s tasteless and makes the state look bad.

Get over it. We need levity.

 

But the fact he even spoke out about it speaks volumes, as in turn up the volume: “Kegasus” so far has worked, as did the 2010 campaign “Get Your Preak On.” It got people talking and, according to the MJC, helped increased attendance by 18,000 over the previous year, when the BYOB policy ended.

It doesn’t take a controversial ad campaign to get my co-worker, Ian Tapp of Blood-Horse/TrueNicks, to add his two cents—he’ll do so on anything—but he offered this in response to the concerned legislator: “How will he feel about the 2012 Preakness winner, Fusaichi Kegasus?”

Clever—and that’s the benefit of a clever ad campaign. It gets people thinking and talking.

More so than even Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby day, Pimlico Race Course on Preakness day is two radically different worlds: the apron side of the track, and the infield side of the track. Pick your party, one that’s heavily racing, or another that’s well ... (insert description of choice).

Maryland racing isn’t having an easy time of it right now, and any relief, even that of the comic variety, is much appreciated. It seems the MJC with its 2010 and 2011 marketing campaigns is trying to do what any good business would do: generate noise and traffic to ultimately increase revenue--and hopefully a little more interest in horse racing.

There’s always room for the racehorses on Preakness day, and anyone who says otherwise doesn’t attend on a regular basis. But there could be a whole lot more pari-mutuel wagering, particularly in the infield, something the MJC should attempt to foster.

The very young audience is there, so capitalize on it. If they spend $20 on a beer mug, maybe they'll bet $10 on the races. Flood the infield with “Kegasus” tip sheets authored by the “manimal” himself.

A little more trash on the ground of the infield, which looks like a landfill the morning after the Preakness anyway, is the least of the MJC’s problems. A little more infield wagering, however, would surely be a welcome development in the current environment.

43 Comments

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Mark

Last year, the increase in attendance DID NOT correspond with an expected increase of about $3 million in wagering handle. So the gimmick failed, IMO.

I can't imagine this year will be any different unless the same people who showed up last year somehow have learned how to handicap races, made their selections the night before the races, and then somehow, through their drunken stupor on Preakness day, remember how to get to a betting window without getting shut out. Good luck with that.

31 Mar 2011 12:35 PM
Soldier Course

Did "Yum!" get more people talking about the Kentucky Derby?

31 Mar 2011 12:37 PM
Great North

I think its brilliant edgy marketing,racing needs the 20 to 40 demo to survive. Kegasus needs a Facebook page complete with tip sheets and basic handicapping instructions.

31 Mar 2011 1:26 PM
CentralValleyDame

How come it is a man on a filly's (or mare's) body? I am really not sure that Kegasus is such a good idea. The least they could do is not insult females of either species because this is definitely a "guy" thing.

31 Mar 2011 1:27 PM
Biff

Hey! There's no need to superimpose Jason's scrawny little upper body onto 'Kegasus'! Yikes!

Now, with the infield barring the BYOB gimmick--trust me, they would rather spend their money on booze than on bets. Good luck with that.

31 Mar 2011 1:48 PM
moodygirl

What a hoot! My first reaction to Kegasus was horror, disgust and amazement. Now that I think about it, "Any publicity is good publicity" applies here. It's certainly more tasteless than "Get Your Preak On." Tasteless is where it's at now. Look at the popularity of reality shows and their appeal to the young.

Promoting parties on the infield and your suggestion on a tip sheet from Kegasus, anything to actually promote the horses and betting, is a great idea. Partying was at the top of my list when I was 21.

Fans come in by many different routes. Betting might not be up the first year, but give it time. They ARE spending money at the track. I know one devoted fan (and I am not talking about myself) who realized he was getting a little too old for the party at the KY Derby infield and moved to the bleachers.

Fans & betters do NOT have to be HANDICAPPERS. People bet on a horse for any number of reasons. It is all $ and some MAY develop into handicappers or serious betters. This is better publicity for racing than what PETA spreads so freely among young uninformed people. As we used say, "Whatever floats your boat!"

I say, "Preakness, welcome your tired, your thirsty, your party-seeking horse racing ignorant"; right along with the racing purists! It is needed NOW & I do believe it is an investment in the future of racing, like it or not. I couldn't keep from smiling the whole time I was writing this, which can't be a bad thing. It's PREAKED my interest.

31 Mar 2011 2:08 PM
Bill Daly

A lot of folks at the MJC  were very embarassed by the viral YouTube video showing drunken teenagers hopping over the tops of lined-up portapots while being pelted with beercans and bottles by mob below. That's not the image they want the public at large to see. The trouble is most people already know about the Preakness infield and could care less. The infield is for revelry. The grandstand is for horseplayers, owners, etc. Unless they ban alcohol altogether the viral vids will continue making their way onto the Internet and the Preakness infield's rep will remain intact as a den of debauchery.

31 Mar 2011 2:11 PM
GoldenBroom

They could have at least hired a graphic artist (or a student) that knows photoshop. That image is funny but terribly rendered!!!

31 Mar 2011 2:13 PM
Zenyatta John

I still have that image of that drunk idiot standing on the track in the path of Artax on the Preakness undercard.

Now they want to promote more drunkenness? Crazy.

31 Mar 2011 2:33 PM
Fuzzy Corgi

Then after the Preakness, centaur Kegasus could get together with a new mascot for the local natural history museum, Kegasaurus Rex, and do some ribbon-cutting ceremonies at taverns, bars, and frat parties around the state.

Yep, both mascots are bad ideas.

31 Mar 2011 2:35 PM
needler in Virginia

lessee..........hmmmmm........how does trashy, lowlife, demeaning to good men AND horses, trashy, childish, ill-conceived, trashy, ridiculous, pitiable, absurd, and.............TRASHY!!!

Bet you can't guess how I feel about this particular campaign, can you? And Soldier Course got it in one; Yum! really made everyone pour into the infield to wager their brains out, didn't it?

BLAH! HUMBUG! I'm NOT gonna lighten up about this one, Tom; there's no way this is even marginally cute or funny. It's just trashy.

On that cheerful and snarky rant I'm gonna wish ALMOST everyone cheers and safe trips.

31 Mar 2011 2:42 PM
Mary P

I think Kegasus is hysterical. The infield has always been a party, I have friends that go just for the party. Yeah, they make a $2 or $5 bet but they can't tell you anything about the horses running.....it's a "I relate to the name" kinda thing.

Personally, anything that gets people in works for me. The tracks, horses and their connections have to sell the sport. Uncle Mo has a girl doing MoTown at his races ... get to know who he is and hang with the Mo folks. ... that is fun and can make them fans. If this bothers anyone, come up with a fun thing to do in the infield that will bring the kids back and develop an interest in the horses or betting. The tracks are trying. Can they use the money better? Maybe. But this is the route they are taking. What's that thing????? Any press is good press?

31 Mar 2011 2:50 PM
RIP VAN DINKLE

this Kegasus is like really rad. I saw it and i was like "oh my God, I wanna go to the Preakness now to see Kegasus because he's like totally cool, I mean he is like off the hook! Kegasus like totally rocks!

31 Mar 2011 3:11 PM
Denise

I think it's sort of creepy but if it gets people talking about the Preakness and attending it, great! I love the Preakness and have been to about 30-35 of them and I sit in the grandstand!

31 Mar 2011 3:26 PM
sidekickflats

I wonder how many more people Kegasus would attract versus how many it would turn off. I would love to go to the Preakness to see the race. If I saw that campaign any other time, I would stay away. Thinking about having a bunch of drunk people all around acting stupid definitely is not a selling point for me.

Evidently, racing is not trying to attract families with ads like Kegasus or Churchill selling cigars and cigarettes at the Breeders' Cup.

31 Mar 2011 3:34 PM
whitenoise

When I first heard about this awful, misguided idea, I assumed that the Kegasus character would be a cartoon.  But seeing the actual "artwork" has really creeped me out.  This is definitely a strong contender for the worst promotion of the year, if not the 21st century to date.

31 Mar 2011 4:26 PM
Karen in Texas

I guess this proves that desperate times call for desperate measures? Other than that I can find nothing redeeming about such a pathetic and (insert any of the adjectives used by needler in Virginia) ad campaign.  

31 Mar 2011 4:46 PM
TBlover

Pathetic- a bunch of half nude drunks running around the infield is just what racing needs to improve their public image - NOT!!!

I still remember my first impression of the Kentucky Derby when a young drunk woman flashed herself when the horses were entering the track on the way to the Derby post parade.

Another good reason to watch racing on TV, without dealing with the live environment.

31 Mar 2011 5:31 PM
photobill

Is it male or female? Kegasus looks like a male but the horse is female. Maybe we can have people marry their pets on the infield this year. Baltimore, glad i don't live there anymore.

31 Mar 2011 5:38 PM
JerseyTom

I think some of you folks are missing the point: You don't have to participate in the infield festivities. There is plenty of room at Pimlico for concentrating on the races, which is why most people are there. My guess is the MJC has spent a decent amount of money on this ad campaign, which quite frankly many racetracks wouldn't--and haven't--done. Give them a little credit for trying different things. This is 2011. Be bold.

31 Mar 2011 6:00 PM
Lil Darlin

Rock on, Kegasus! We need to get you your own reality TV show on VH1 or MTV!  Honestly, though, look at today's TV programming, commercials, movie comedies (Old School anyone?)...some may not like it, but the 20-40 demographic doesn't seem to want entertainment that takes itself too seriously. If Kegasus convinces them to get sweet relief from the 9-5 grind by going to Pimlico, I say go for it!

31 Mar 2011 6:04 PM
vegasvixen

The drinks go along with the drugs. Handicapping is a waste of time these days since the race outcomes don't show any relation to a horse's past perfromances. Go ahead--drink a lot, bet a little.

31 Mar 2011 6:06 PM
backside sweetie

I think this is disgusting and a huge insult to the people that work in the racing world. We are proud of our occupation and work hard 24/7, 365 days a year. We love and admire the beautiful horses that we share our lives with and would rather try to get more families to come to the races rather than a bunch of drunken fools showing their private parts ,practically having sex on the ground and throwing up on each other. Most of them don't even realize there are horses there, and they certainly are not going to be betting as they would rather buy another beer!!! Whoever thought this was a good campaign to introduce new people to horser acing should spend an hour on the infield. This is not a good idea. I also remember the drunk in the middle of the track on Preakness Day. Is this really what we need to make money?  

31 Mar 2011 8:25 PM
Alex'sBigFan

This is a travesty. I find it appalling that the Sport of Kings is being reduced to marketing of this low caliber. The mascot is a ludicrous burlesque image that cheapens the sport. I wholeheartedly agree with the Maryland lawmaker, this is very tasteless. This is a desperate attempt at attracting the wrong kind of people to the sport, who in turn will not generate revenue or anything else for it other than shame. Market to the very young, yes, but not by contributing to them becoming alcoholics. There is a whole market of young kids and women out there; how unfortunate this marketing staff can't capture it with dignity and class.  

31 Mar 2011 9:05 PM
Jason Shandler

Kegasus looks like Kenny Powers from Eastbound & Down.

The campaign is fine. Why people get so worked up over such stupid things is beyond me. Ironic, however, that this is the same track that banned alcohol two years ago. What a boneheaded move that was. Looks like they learned their lesson.

31 Mar 2011 9:18 PM
Robin from Maryland

I'm not sure I really like it either. Too bad that in a few years MD racing will be a has been. The only time that Pimlico has any backside activity is the few weeks surrounding the Preakness. Pimlico sits empty the rest of the year. MD messed up racing when the slots bill took too long--most horsemen have gone outside the state for the bigger purses. Then, they ban alcohol from the infield--brillant!!!Now,we have Kegasus--STUPID!!!  How is this going to promote MD racing? It's not. We can all thank the FOOLS in Annapolis. Soon we here in MD won't have to worry about any Preakness mascot, cause the Preakness will be run somewhere else. And that my friends will truly be the worst day in racing for MD.

31 Mar 2011 9:35 PM
Sistah

The infield is a party for people who want an excuse to party. Why not make the most of it. And let's look at the big picture: My bet is that 1/4 the crowd on the apron at some point attended the infield or similar situation and it got them interested in the sport itself. It's the same with Nascar, football and other "tailgate" or "fest" type activities.  

01 Apr 2011 8:48 AM
Melissa

You just can't cure stupid.

01 Apr 2011 8:50 AM
Will in Virginia

Simply stated, MJC is placing marketing muscle behind the wrong thing. IMHO, they should be marketing the horses. After all, they are the "Jockey Club," not a beer company. As several mentioned above, it is unlikely that kids looking for a party will be looking for a betting window. I'm sorry to say I am not a fan of this new "Kegasus" campaign. It appeals to the lowest common denominator, rather than attempting to lift our sport up.

01 Apr 2011 11:01 AM
Brian Russell

To all the posters that feel racing should be marketing to families, I would like to ask why? Minors are not legally able to bet and the parents have to spend their time and money on their minors. Politically correct or not, the young single male is the demographic racing must cultivate as they have, bar far, the highest probability of becoming regular horseplayers (even if their probability is not that high).

01 Apr 2011 11:15 AM
Truls Engebretsen

Anyone who doesn't think this is a good move must know something about the state of horse racing in Maryland (and the U.S. really) that the industry does not. The fact is Maryland horse racing is on life support and the ban on BYOB in infield was the nail in the coffin for the Preakness in Maryland. The race will never be the same, and neither will the revenue from it, but at least this ad campaign (however bad it looks) is making an attempt to reach out to the college community/Baltimore area and let people know the Preakness is "cool" again.

I dont think any real horseplayers WON'T attend Preakness 2011 due to this ad campaign, so every extra person in the infield corresponds to additional marginal profit for MD racing. Probably a poor example, but racing in Europe has been utilizing these gimmicks for years, and, although some tracks are definitely struggling same as here, the standing of the sport is much higher than in America, and has not been hurt by an attempt to generate revenue from young males who like to drink.

01 Apr 2011 1:25 PM
Uzuri

Hey -- don't dis the 20-40 yos. I'm a member of that demographic, and while I try not to take myself too seriously, there's still a line to be drawn and Kegasus just flew over it.

But then, I don't bet, either, so I'm not the kind of fan horse racing wants.

01 Apr 2011 1:30 PM
Somethingroyal

What an insult to a sport with so much history and rich in tradition. When did all of that stop being important? I wish there was a head-shaking icon to display.  

01 Apr 2011 1:54 PM
Rachel

Yup, let's promote a booze fest frat party to an infield of idiot drunks and then merrily dump them out on the road to drive home...

Responsibility, class ... the Preakness is not thy name.

01 Apr 2011 5:17 PM
needler in Virginia

Wow, who knew racing needed the barely legal (we can only hope for the legal crowd, but I wouldn't hold my breath, guys) eejits who enjoy getting blasted, getting naked and running into a field of racing horses? Now that I consider it, though, that's EXACTLY what racing needs.

Is there anyone out there who missed my enthusiasm for this particular "promo"? If so, you should remember that I majored in Irony in college and graduated with a degree in the subject.

As I said before......cheers and safe trips to almost everyone.

01 Apr 2011 7:02 PM
Jim P

First they banned drinking in the infield; then attendance dropped. Now they promote drinking -- nothing like raising your liability! Sorry, this makes the industry look bad and reinforces for many that the track is no place to go.

01 Apr 2011 9:47 PM
Lil Darlin

Uzuri - No disrespect intended, I am part of that demo as well.  I take myself way too seriously working 7 days a week, so when I saw Kegasus I jumped on the opportunity to have a long overdue laugh!

02 Apr 2011 6:25 PM
Sunny Farm

That KEGASUS is a real party animal!

By golly, that man is built like a horse!

He does need his own facebook page!

A Centaur is a mythical creature, a luminal being caught between the two natures.

A Centaur is the embodiment of Un-tamed nature, chaos and Un-bridled PASSION. He is known to be faithful, have prophecy and perform healing.

These are NOT sexist thoughts, and yes, there are female centaurs.

I like the infield idea and to attend would be a lot of fun, especially if the beer prices are reasonable.

I see nothing wrong with enjoying a great party in the infield. (After a long winter, I am IN!)

As others have written, there are the grandstands for the serious horseplayers. Now, where can I obtain a poster? That sunset or sunrise in the poster has PASSION!

ENJOY LIFE -YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE.

p.s. I would love to own a Centaur, just think how helpful he could be around the stables, having thumbs but the strength of a horse. He'd make a great horse trainer, too!

03 Apr 2011 1:53 PM
moodygirl

Gee Whiz! I remember how the over-40 crowd lashed out at those Hippies. Sounds kind of familiar here. I think the word "anal" fits many of the comments here. Look it up in the slang dictionary if you don't know what it means. I was thinking some kind of transportation could be offered to those too trashed to drive, kind of like New Year's Eve or the 4th in some cities. Something they might could also pay for. Yes it's tasteless but it is a new world we are living in, and look how the hippies turned into old fuddy duddies.

04 Apr 2011 5:29 AM
Alex'sBigFan

Did they not consider that Derby contender Premier Pegasus may make it to the Preakness Stakes and isn't this centaur's name an insult to Premier Pegasus? I'm all for "cool" as I am on the cusp of this age demographic but I think they should be marketing and promoting the horses as well and challenging the young males, if that is their target group, to wagering promotions instead of this.

04 Apr 2011 11:06 PM
needler in Virginia

Moodygirl, new does NOT equate to tasteless. I know you wish it did, but it only means "new." I'm one of "those hippies" and have no problem AT ALL with fun, but this promo isn't even marginally fun OR funny. It's just trashy, and the idea of providing transport for those too blitzed to drive? The entire East Coast rapid transit system would drown under the load, thus losing any profits from all the money the drunks left at the track. ... if, indeed, there were one extra dollar bet by those too trashed to stand or even crawl.

Nope, new is absolutely fine, it's after all ... new. But lowlife and base is not new; it's just sad that anyone would think it equates to a good thing.

Cheers and safe trips ... I think. ...

08 Apr 2011 4:52 PM
Criminal Type

Many of you have made good points. I am a Marylander and have attended the Preakness at least 20 times. It has changed dramatically from the mid-70s till now. I was there for Affirmed and Alydar, Easy Goer and Sunday Silence, Spectacular Bid, Street Sense, Curlin, Hard Spun. They didn't need any cheesy tasteless gimmicks then and they sure as hell don't need this pathetic rendering of an alcoholic centaur now.

The Preakness was, in my day, the mid 70s and early 80s a kind of rite of passage. No youth's party experiences were complete until that drunken weekend in Ocean City after graduation and the infield at Preakness. I am sure the choice of the mare's body had a lot to do with not offending anyone with balls.

Everything I've heard about Kegasus has to do with bringing back the drinkers and thus, hopefully the dollars. However, Pimlico will still not allow you to BYOB as it was until 2010. But, once you get there, You pay 20 bucks for a plastic mug and you can refill it all day. I dunno about you, but when I was 20 I could drink 20 bucks worth of beer easy. So, pretty good deal really if that's your thing.

I am wondering how much, if any, input 98Rock had with this campaign since they sponsor the entertainment. While I have left the intensity and insanity of the infield behind as I have gotten older (and smarter) and now sit in the grandstand, I do love the show. There is nothing like watching a sunburned group of intoxicated 20 somethings trying to navigate their way across Northern Parkway after the race. I also now spend more money at the window.  

Alex'sBigfan, this campaign has been in the works long before PrePeg was even on the radar. But I get your point.

Robin, this campaign did not start in Annapolis. It was the MJC's stupidity with no help needed from the Statehouse. As I stated before, I think 98Rock had a lot of input.

12 Apr 2011 3:52 PM
PomDeTerre

pathetic- simply pathetic.

18 May 2011 10:13 PM

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