With up to 10,000 bottomless mugs of beer being poured into drinkers at the Preakness infield today, surely planning for such a beerfest must be a logistical nightmare?
Not really, says Sebastien Watteau, the man in charge of ensuring there's enough food and drink for the 120,000 or so racing fans and partyers expected to show up at Pimlico. At least no more so than planning for any Preakness — which, he assures, is no picnic.
"It's crazy," he says between calls on his cell phone, which come in at the rate of about one per minute in the days leading up to the big race. "It's just basically nonstop every day, from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. We're putting in, like, 90-hour weeks."
Sure, there's a lot more food coming into Pimlico as the Preakness approaches. For Saturday, track concessionaires will have about 9,000 hot dogs on hand — compared with about 300 on a normal day. There will also be 1,000 cases of water, 500 cases of sodas and 160 cases of pizzas (with six pizzas to a case).
As for the beer? Pimlico officials are bringing in about the same amount of beer as last year, even though they're hoping for about 30 percent more people. That would bring attendance, which fell off drastically last year after coolers were prohibited from the infield, just about back to 2007's record levels.
That means a trailer full of kegs for the grandstand and clubhouse, about three trailers for the infield (each trailer holds about 70 kegs). On a normal day, Watteau says, Pimlico has about 12 to 16 kegs of beer on hand. There will also be two truckloads of bottled beer for sale (and three truckloads of ice, to keep it all cold).
Watteau, the track's vice president for hospitality, figures that should be plenty of beer for this year.
"The main thing is, you've just got to have enough," he says.
And if he's bought too much? No sweat; there's an agreement with the beer suppliers to buy back any untapped kegs.