In recent years, Pitbull has become one of Top 40's most consistent acts, both in the U.S. and Latin America. "Back in Time," his single for "Men in Black 3," has sold two million copies, and he recently performed as part of New Year's Rockin' Eve.
"Pitbull is young and energetic," said Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas on Monday morning outside by Pimlico Race Course's finish line. "No controversy, just a feel-good kind of act."
Together with producer Ryan Lewis, Macklemore has become arguably the country's hottest hip-hop artist without a major-label deal. His single "Thrift Shop" was recently the No. 1 song on Billboard's Hot 100 chart.
There's no official word yet, but Chuckas said Monday afternoon that Kegasus, the half-man, half-centaur mascot, would likely not return this year. Preakness' InfieldFest has become such a significant event in recent years, Chuckas said, that a mascot might no longer be neccessary.
"The brand is very strong. It's become a first-class event," Chuckas said via telephone. "The Jockey Club's need to rely on Kegasus is less than ever."
The Mug Club, which offers unlimited refills of beer in a souvenir mug, will also return this year, organizers said. The Mug Club is available in two areas of the infield, and costs an additional $20.
Tickets for InfieldFest are on sale now at preakness.com. The cost, normally $50 for infield admission and $70 for Mug Club tickets, has been reduced to $40 and $60, respectively, through 10 a.m. Feb. 26. Prices will increase to $60 and $80 during the week of Preakness.
Last year's InFieldFest featured headliners Maroon 5 and Wiz Khalifa. Maroon 5's performance solidified its standing as one of the better, more intelligent acts in pop music. When the band returned for its encore with "Moves Like Jagger," the crowd cheered louder than it had all day.
Wiz Khalifa performed his own hour-long set earlier in the day, with a balanced mix of aggressive show-off rap and relaxed love letters to his drug of choice, marijuana. The infield accepted Wiz's stoner persona with open arms, especially on poppier singles such as "Young, Wild and Free" and "Roll Up."
Chuckas said the positive response to Khalifa's set at last year's InfieldFest played a role in the decision to book Macklemore.
"Their demographic is early 20s, and over the past few years, we've been trying to move that way," he said.
A third InfieldFest act, along with the lineup for the second stage, will be announced soon, Chuckas said. He said there's a good chance rock and country acts will be announced for the second stage.