03/22/2010 12:00AM

Pimlico to offer all-you-can-drink at Preakness

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Patrons in the infield at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on Preakness Stakes Day on May 15 will be able to receive unlimited refills of beer for $20, according to the racetrack.

The new policy is designed to placate critics of a ban implemented last year on bringing any beverages into the infield. In 2009, the first year of the ban, attendance at the Preakness dropped by 34,000 people, from more than 101,000 to 77,850, a 30.6 percent drop.

Although infield customers will continue to be prohibited from bringing any drinks into the track, patrons will be allowed to buy a 16-ounce mug in the infield that can be filled an unlimited number of times. In addition, Pimlico said that a beer garden in the infield will offer $1 12-ounce beers from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Admission to the infield this year will cost $40 in advance, and $50 on the day of the Preakness, Pimlico said. Last year, infield admission was $50 regardless of when the ticket was purchased.

Aside from cheap beer, entertainment in the infield - where horse racing is at best a secondary distraction - will include concerts by the Zac Brown Band and O.A.R. There will also be a cornhole tournament among local bars, a bikini contest, a professional women's beach volleyball doubles tournament, and a scavenger hunt, Pimlico said.