You couldn't see the horses.
Lost in the thick fog that enveloped Pimlico Race Course after yet another day of rain, the eight entries in the 143rd running of the Preakness Stakes could not be seen by most of the crowd as they made the final turn and headed for home.
"It seemed like an eternity," said Elliott Walden, President and CEO of WinStar Farm. "You were just hoping to see those white silks coming out. There were a lot of horses around him, a few more than I would have hoped. But I was happy to see those white silks coming out."
That's because those white silks belonged to Justify, the Kentucky Derby winner, who held on to win a wet, sloppy, crazy and highly unusual second jewel of the Triple Crown.
Trained by Bob Baffert and owned by the partnership of WinStar, China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners and Starlight Racing, Justify held off a charging Bravazo by a half-length at the wire as Tenfold finished third with Good Magic fourth.
For much of the mile and 3/16th race, it shaped up much as most thought it would — a match race between the Derby winner in Justify and the Derby runner-up in Good Magic.
Only this time, Good Magic pushed Justify from the start and even appeared to take the lead at one point under jockey Jose Ortiz, much to the chagrin of trainer Chad Brown.
"He's just not a horse that runs on the lead, so I'm very disappointed," said Brown, who won the 2017 Preakness with Cloud Computing. "I know this horse very well and he's not a horse to be on the lead. No way."
And was this a day and a race in which Justify could have been beaten?
"Obviously I entered our horse in the race because I thought there was a chance he could be beaten," Brown said.
And, unlike his performance in the Derby, Justify showed a few chinks in his armor.
"He really had to dig deep today," Baffert said of the son of Scat Daddy who after being unraced at two has won five races in a span of 12 weeks.
"I thought he showed he was a little green today," said jockey Mike Smith, who won his second Preakness. "But he came through."
He came through on what was an eerie afternoon. For the fourth consecutive day, rain pelted Baltimore, causing Pimlico to move all but one of its turf races to the dirt on Preakness Day and enduring a rash of scratches because of the weather.
Tim Ritvo, the CEO of the Stronach Group, which owns Pimlico, reported a multitude of leaks and falling tiles at the crumbling facility as he hinted the race might move to nearby Laurel Park in 2020.
The conditions caused the Pimlico track to be labeled sloppy, but it was much more of a quagmire than the slop on which Justify won the Derby two weeks back.
"Going around the first time he jumped the tracks right past the wire where they're rolling the (walking bridge) out," Smith said. "And when he did, he really got to slipping."
And yet, despite the footing, and being pressed by Good Magic, and the hard charge by Calumet Farm's Bravazo, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, Justify held on to give Baffert his seventh Preakness victory and his fifth with a Derby winner.
"I'd like to put a Western saddle on him and ride him in the Rose Parade," said Baffert, "He's just so beautiful."
It's not the Rose Parade that comes next, however.
"We'll see how he trains," Baffert said. "Right now, I don't see why not."
On Friday, killing time with a few writers outside the Stakes Barn, Baffert almost casually laid out an august comparison.
"He's just like American Pharoah," said the trainer, comparing Justify to the Triple Crown winner he also trained. "They're both just superior horses."
Superior enough to win the Belmont Stakes on June 9 and become the sport's second Triple Crown winner in four years? We shall see.
Said Smith, "I can't wait to get to the next race."