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Kegasus Continues To Get Flack As 2011 Preakness Stakes Mascot

The backlash to Kegasus, the centaur/mascot of the 2011 Preakness Stakes, has gotten swift in the days leading up to Saturday's actual race. The latest comes in this story by Liz Clarke of the Washington Post, in which many horse racing purists suggest Kegasus demeans the sanctity and romanticism of the race itself.

"It appeals to the lowest common denominator," Maryland Del. Patrick L. McDonough says, "It promotes alcohol. And it insults young people by creating the impression that all of them are interested in a fraternity party and a drinking binge."    

I mean, maybe. But while we're here: let's consider the Maryland Racing Commission predicament:

Here's what we know about the situation:

  • The Maryland Racing Commission needs the Preakness very badly as a money maker to survive. Blame their incompetence beyond the Preakness if you want, but it does nothing to change this fact.
  • When the Preakness barred alcohol on the infield two years ago, the event's attendance dropped from over 120,000 to just over 75,000. That's an incredibly significant drop, and it's bad for income and for general interest in the sport.
  • With Kegasus in the fold, attendance is back up.
We make fun of Kegasus here because the idea of a partying centaur is so silly. But as a concept, I think people who are getting sanctimonious about him need to better consider the practical reality of the situation.