No rain needed for wet, wild fun

For those in infield, it was a day for spilled beer, mud and more

Preakness Stakes

May 21, 2006|By BRENT JONES | BRENT JONES,SUN REPORTER

There wasn't any rain. In fact, the conditions were nearly perfect for the Preakness yesterday. But, as usual, there was only one way to describe portions of Pimlico's infield and a number of its inhabitants for the day - sloppy.

Ryan Hain arrived early from Owings Mills to attend his third Preakness with a group of friends who - with the help of large amounts of spilled beer - turned the ground around them into mud.

"I've been to the last three," said Hain, 26, "and this is the best one yet."

With temperatures in the 70s, infield revelers indulged in the event's longtime traditions of betting, beer and exposing body parts.

Hain distributed a dozen or so homemade T-shirts commemorating the day, and he and his friends wore them while dousing a plastic water slide with beer and pleading with passing women to give it a try.

Jeremy Knapp, from Richmond, Va., was able to find some green space with good footing. Knapp, a solid 225 pounds, wanted those conditions to hoist an equally large friend onto his shoulders and spin him around 10 times.

Why Knapp decided to do this he could not say, but it seemed appropriate in such an atmosphere. All in all, Knapp's actions were relatively tame compared to others.

"He was heavier than I thought. I'd think twice about doing that again," Knapp said.

Police said there were no major problems beyond a handful of fights.

Col. Scott Williams, commander of the Baltimore Police Department's tactical squad, said more than 400 officers provided security. He said officers try not to make arrests, preferring instead to escort the disorderly out the course and tearing up their tickets.

The colonel said only a handful of people were arrested. "They're usually the people who are totally, ridiculously drunk, and you can't do too much with them," he said.

Cecil Jones, of Charlottesville, Va., joined six of his friends in the infield, staking out a section near the 98 Rock stage for his 12th consecutive Preakness.

Jones, 50, may have been one of the oldest revelers, but he thinks that only enhanced his experience. Maurice Daniels, of Woodbridge, Va., who was sitting next to Jones, appeared to be even older but refused to give his age.

"Once you get here, you forget about the people around you," Jones said. "It's a camaraderie thing."

brent.jones@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Gus G. Sentementes contributed to this article.

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