So you’re going to the Preakness? See ya there! If you haven’t been before, the running of the Preakness Stakes takes place at Pimlico race course in Baltimore. “The People’s Race” as it has been dubbed is known for being a little more relaxed, a little less snobby, and quite a bit more rowdy – if you’re in the infield anyway – than its other Triple Crown sisters, the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes.
InfieldFest started in 2010 following the banning of Pimlico’s BYOB “policy,” i.e. as much beer as you can fit in a cooler, trashcan, on a bus, etc. After videos of people running on top of the portapotties while full cans of beer were chucked at them went viral, Preakness decided to change their style. The first year of no BYOB proved to be unpopular, with record low attendance. Since then, InfieldFest has included the Mug Club – unlimited beer – and concerts from acts like Maroon 5, Bruno Mars, Lorde, and Pitbull, and has grown in popularity every year.
I’ve gone to Preakness a few times, starting in 2011. I missed one year because I am quite possibly the first adult to get Hand, Foot & Mouth (yes, the toddler disease) during my senior year of college finals. It was as joyful as it sounds. Otherwise, I’ve enjoyed my share of bottomless mugs of beer in the Infield, and learned the best practices for getting there, staying safe (and hydrated) and staving off the inevitable 7pm hangover associated with starting the day of drinking at 8am.
Thanks to America’s Best Racing, we’ll be hanging out in the Mug & Vine club at InfieldFest 2016 – come hang out with us! Since it will be Julie and Shae’s first day at the races. I thought I’d share my infinite wisdom so they don’t make me look dumb, but also to help any of you guys who might be heading to your first running of the Preakness!
- PLAN your transportation, then also have a backup plan – I highly recommend using public transportation, especially to get there. You can check out the various routes provided by MTA here, and I usually use the Light Rail to Cold Spring Station option and catch a shuttle bus.
- Look at the Map – There are 2 major gates for Mug Club, and trust me when I say 90% of people who get off those buses have no idea where they’re going. The neighborhood around Pimlico isn’t the greatest, so don’t go wandering around. Look at the maps before hand and decide on a Gate to enter though based on where you want to go, i.e. Mug Club, Mug & Vine, or Grandstand. Also, go ahead and save that map to your phone or download the Preakness App now. Just do it & thank me later.
- Decide on a meeting place with your posse. If you aren’t traveling together, choose a place you will meet up when you get in and get your mug. This gets much harder to do as your mug gets refilled, so decide ahead of time. Great choices are the Jaegermeister Dome or Jaegermeister stage, because there is only 1 of each and they’re easy to find.
- Have your exit planned. Getting out of that place after the Preakness race is bonkers, so know how you’re going to do it, and have a back up plan. Uber rates are crazy high and impossible to find your driver. I’ve got my roommate on standby just in case we can’t make our way to the shuttles back to the Light Rail, but warn them that traffic is really bad as well. Frankly, its 10x easier to leave before the Preakness is actually run, but then where’s the fun in that?!
What to Wear
- Honestly, whatever the hell you want. Preakness is known for being more laid-back than you probably picture for horse races but you will definitely see fun hats and seersucker suits, especially in the Grandstand. In the Infield, anything goes, from sundresses to gorilla suits – no, I’m not kidding. Think fun festival attire, with big sun hats being the perfect compromise. Side note: I love a good romper, but don’t forget about the porta potty situation. I already had to talk Shae off the ledge on this one.
- Shoes, shoes, shoes. This is the most important consideration. You’re going to be walking all day and walking a lot. Wear something comfortable. It’s probably going to rain this year because obviously the sun has forgotten where Maryland is so wear something either washable, like Shae and I’s favorite plastic jesus shoes, or boots. When it rains, it gets insanely muddy in the field, so don’t wear shoes you care about.
- Sunblock / rain gear – weather pending, but know there is little shelter in the Infield, unless you count Porta-potties. So be prepared for whatever is forecasted. I love Dark Sky for up to the minute weather updates.
What to Bring
- Cash: for food, drinks besides beer – like the official drink of the Preakness, a Black-Eyed Susan – and betting. I know nothing about horse betting, but that’s what the internetz are for!
- Saltines or Pretzels: You’re allowed to bring food in clear containers, so go ahead and bring your drunk snack. It’s a long day, y’all.
- Protective covering for your belongings: This is specific to the expected forecast for this year, I.e. pouring. Don’t ruin your precious cell phone, please. The picture of Fetty Wap isn’t worth it.
- Extra power supply: I find my cell drains faster than ever during events like this, so I always like to bring a small portable charger like this one. Again, protected from the elements please. Hunting boxes or pouches are easily accessible at Walmart and work well for this.
- Proof you’re an Adult: Don’t forget your ID or you won’t get your dang mug! I know this seems obvious, but I’m talking to you, Julie. :cough, cough:
That’s all the major stuff. Most importantly, be safe, have fun, and don’t do anything I haven’t already done (this leaves the playing field pretty open.) Drink lots of water in between those bottomless beers, or Sunday After Preakness will be a very, very painful day.
We’ll be hanging out at InfieldFest this year thanks to America’s Best Racing, so come hang out with us! Tag #30thandweldon and #AmericasBestRacing on Insta so we can follow your adventures.