BALTIMORE -- Presiding over the beer-swilling crowd in the Preakness infield was Kegasus, half-man, half-thoroughbred and thoroughly bizarre. The bare-chested hybrid entertained the media Saturday morning in a tiny tent decorated with bikini tops and a mask of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine.
The centaur with shoulder-length hair, a brown beard and a pierced left nipple began the meet and greet by having each journalist (there were four) throw a dart with eyes closed at a board decorated with bikini tops. Wearing a blue one was an orange plaster statue of the Venus de Milo.
More horse racing
The Lord of the Infield glorified the 14 Preakness runners, proclaiming that "Every one of them could conquer the world by winning every race simultaneously." When asked whether he feared losing some of his followers to The Great Beyond on the predicted day of the Rapture, the manimal revealed his cosmic perspective.
"Whether or not the world ends today," Kegasus said, "everyone in the infield will die happy."
While Kegasus provided photo ops and filled notebooks, a bikini contest went on in the beer tent. A blonde named Julie, attired minimally in crimson, received a trip to the Bahamas. She smiled as a band played and overflowing mugs and cups saluted her.
It was only 10 after 11, and the intoxicating fun had just begun. By the time the 13-race card would end not long before sundown, no way would there be enough designated drivers.
West Point Thoroughbreds owns King Congie, who finished seventh in the Preakness. He's the namesake of Congie DeVito, who was a sales representative for the syndicate for 13 years. DeVito, a quadriplegic who suffered from brittle bone disease, was only 35 when he died Feb. 16. Mike Masiello choked up while saluting his friend Thursday at Pimlico's Alibi Breakfast.
Masiello said West Point had trouble selling the son of Badge of Silver last year "because he was kind of scrawny." DeVito found buyers but told West Point founder Terry Finley that he wouldn't close the deal unless he could name the colt after himself. Done.
"He was a terrific guy," Masiello said. "He lived his whole life in a wheelchair, but he was probably the biggest personality I've ever met. He was such an outspoken, wonderful, positive person."
Motion big on undercard
Graham Motion had two wins, a second and a third with his five starters before the Preakness. Technique, ridden by Edgar Prado, took the first race, a 6-furlong allowance. Golden Causeway won by a nose in the third race, at 11/16 miles on turf. Shared Account finished second as the 8-5 favorite in the Grade III Gallorette Handicap on the grass. Icabad Crane came in third in the Grade III, 11/16-mile William Donald Schaefer Handicap, and Slews Answer finished fifth behind odds-on Paddy O'Prado in the race before the Preakness, the Grade II Dixie Handicap at 11/8 miles on the turf.
Around the track
Dean and Patti Reeves co-own Mucho Macho Man, who finished sixth in the Preakness. The Reeveses and their entourage entertained seven racing writers and a thoroughbred owner at a restaurant Friday night with a rousing chorus of the Village People's 1978 disco classic "Macho Man." One scribe chimed in with the refrain of "Body! Body!" . . . Another difference between the Derby and the Preakness: the price of a signature drink. At Churchill Downs, mint juleps went for $10. A Black-Eyed Susan cost "only" $8. You can keep the souvenir glasses, but they often crack in dishwashers.