BALTIMORE | I caught up with Preakness infield party mascot Kegasus – a half man/half horse – Saturday before the second race of the Triple Crown. Here’s a transcript of my one-on-one interview with Kegasus, done at his tented stall in the beer garden at Pimlico:
Q: This has got to be your favorite day of the year, right?
Kegasus: It is the culmination of a year’s worth of preparation – 12-once curls, cheese-doodle eating until the cows literally come home – Which are whew-protein enhanced cheese doodles by the way – thus my svelte and muscular figure, much like my father, Preaknesius
Q: Is that what these photos are?
Kegasus: The fellow on the right is my father, Preaknesius, god of Preakness. And the lady on the left is my mother, Shelley McDougal, a waitress from Ellicott City. It was in the back of his El Camino chariot of course being as how it was 140 years ago that I was first conceived. I was born on the day of the first Preakness, immediately went to the starting gate and won the race.
Q: Animal Kingdom’s going to win this race?
Kegasus: Animal Kingdom is going to win the race as far as everyone knows, but I will keep my unbeaten streak of winning every Preakness since its inception while wearing my cloak of invisibility, which is an inherent property of every centaur.
Q: How would you compare this infield fest to past years?
Kegasus: This infield fest, I believe, has proven that infield fest can be and is about bands – six of them, all total – professional beach volleyball with a $75,000 purse. It is about a corn hole tournament. It is about crab cakes, a number of other different foods – an eating contest – just as much as it is about beer. And if I’m not mistaken, not a single urinal was run this year, nor was a single beer heaved at another person’s head, because in true legendary fashion this year my friend Tom Chuckas of the Maryland Jockey Club has managed to provide a legendary environment to not just party but party in a joyous fashion so that they may truly be legendary. I would say it’s the best yet, and it doesn’t exist without the Preakness, which doesn’t exist without Pimlico – the center jewel of the Triple Crown, which does not exist without horse racing. Thus, infield fest is the child of horse racing and this is why we are here – to support the sport of kings.
Q: What do you think about traditional horse people who maybe say this gimmick goes against the tradition of horse racing?
Kegasus: I believe that the tradition of horse racing is constantly evolving so that it isn’t something that need necessarily stay in the 1870s when I ran my first Preakness but can move forward each and every year and become more and more legendary. I believe that after this infield fest as part and parcel of the Preakness will impress and endear even horse racing traditionalists to not only infield fest, the Preakness, Pimlico and Kegasus – seeing that we are truly bringing up the next generation of horse racing enthusiasts.
Q: And you’ll be back next year?
Kegasus: My plans are to be here as long as the Preakness is in Maryland. If it moves elsewhere, I plan to follow it – but with my invisibility cloak on. I’m here to stay as long as Mr. Chuckas wants me.