The sport of kings in American hands has lowered itself to this: The advertising slogan for this year’s Preakness stakes, the second jewel in the Triple Crown, is “Get your Preak on.” I am not making this up. Apparently, some advertising agency was actually paid to come up with this, designed to appeal to those seeking the all-you-can-drink tickets to the infield part of the racecourse. There is a web site, www.getyourpreakon.com, which informs you that the festivities include a bikini contest, live bands and something called a “cornhole” tournament (I don’t even want to know). Apparently, there also might be some sort of horse race, but that’s not really clear.
Racing on both sides of the Atlantic is struggling to retain its audience and relevance in an age that is passing it by. I thought it was bad enough in France, when racing was stripped of its dignity by a publicity campaign in childish writing and pastel colors designed to convince parents to bring their kids to the track. Royal Ascot had to add a rule in its dress code requiring that women wear some sort of underwear after “Ladies Day” started to look more like a pole-dancing convention. But it truly suggests the death throes when the marketing for what should be one of America’s premier horse races has to center on beer and hide the horse.