Stories about the infield party at the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore are legendary: the coolers of beer, the portable toilet races, the bikini contests, the couches brought in from the streets.
Through the years there have been more and more restrictions put in place to curb extra rowdy — by infield standards — behavior, and this year’s event may be the tamest of them all. Because of the pandemic, attendance was capped at 10,000 people, including in the infield.
The infield concert did go on, however, and 400 pods, which seat between four and eight people, were arranged on the grass separated by metal fencing, resembling tiny jail cells with folding chairs. They were being sold for $200 to $800. Surely those starved for live music did not feel trapped.
2 Chainz and D-Nice were joined on Saturday by Major Lazer, a last-second addition after the rapper Jack Harlow, who was supposed to headline the event, was embroiled in a controversy surrounding his D.J.’s possible role in a shooting at a club in Louisville the night before the Kentucky Derby on May 1. Harlow, who was at the club, was supposed to give the ceremonial rider’s up call at that race but was replaced by the trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
Previous acts have included such high-profile musicians as Bruno Mars, Maroon 5, Post Malone and ZZ Top.
What was once called InfieldFest is now called Preakness Live, a more grown-up version. The “Kegasus” mascot and bottomless mugs of beer have been thrown out, and now an app run by Pimlico’s owners, 1/ST Racing, conveniently allows concert-goers to order food and bet the races right from their pods.
This was the 11th Preakness for Chris Miller, who lives in Roanoke, Va. He was sitting in the clubhouse reserved seats Saturday, but he was still able to enjoy the music.
“After two years away, I appreciate this place even more,” he said.