New York City and Elmont, New York, May 29, 2017

★★★ Had the rain passed for good, and if not, when would it? Loose drops nicked the surface of the puddles. A car came down 72nd Street with a hiss of wet tires and a honk for the pedestrians waiting to step into the otherwise empty roadway. At midday, out in Queens, rain streaked the train windows and glistened on the highways. Drizzle was still falling on the Belmont Park platform, but sometime during the long walk to the paddock, that stopped too. Pale gray water still lay where the horses would take their walk around. Out on the sloppy track, the 14 horse broke out in front of the field and stayed clean all the way home, on a winning ticket. The five-year-old’s show pick came in right behind. His next show pick, on the wet turf, won going away. The puddles shrank and the benches dried. Safe bets kept paying off. The gloom and the wet had kept the holiday crowd sparse enough that the rail at the finish was usually open. Once, over the paddock, the shape of the sun appeared through a thinner part of a cloud before the heavy gray covered it again. The chill never faltered. More than half the field scratched in the fifth race, but the sixth, the last before the early train, was full of conceivable longshots—all of whom came home spattered in dun mud behind the five-year-old’s chalk-pick winner. The dark clouds over the homeward ride had more shine to them than the dulled steel of a passing train.