Over in the corporate village, tables, color-coordinated linens and flowers under white tents replaced the open-air carnival of the infield. Smart celeb-spotters were keeping an eye on the Under Armour multi-level setup.
The actor and Baltimore native Josh Charles, whose hit show "The Good Wife" just concluded its second season, was in there, while some of the area's two-legged athletes also mingled in the tent city: Raven Ray Rice, as well as coach John Harbaugh, and former Oriole Cal Ripken Jr. were glimpsed.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was thrilled for both the city, which has been abuzz all weekend with all the out-of-towners, and one perk of the job.
"I'm going to meet Bruno Mars," she said of the concert headliner. She planned to be more mayoral than fan-like because, after all, "at 41, I'm slipping into the non-cool zone."
Rawlings-Blake, in the midst of a re-election campaign, claimed at midafternoon that the day had been "pretty politicking-free," although she added, "so far."
In a hat decorated with subtly colored black-eyed Susans, the mayor was among the women who brought out frothy confections, Royal Wedding-inspired fascinators and other sun-shading toppers.
Underneath a sweepingly wide-brimmed black hat from J.Crew, Maria Johnson said she experienced a first this year.
"I was telling my husband, for the first time, I have everything I need in my closet," Johnson, 40, said. "But that meant I didn't get to go shopping."
Lisa Previtt, meanwhile, had to do some last-minute shopping at the Hats in the Belfry pop-up store.
"I didn't know what I was wearing until Thursday, so I didn't get a hat," Previtt, 39, said, enjoying a vodka and club soda before going to try on some possible headgear.
Four 30-something friends from Prince George's County were making like a commercial for some high end metrosexual product: Single-malt scotches and cigars in hand, Patrick B. Larosiliere, Xadean Q. Ahmasi, Yusuf Moore and Bilal Beckles were enjoying their first Preakness.
"But it won't be our last," Moore promised.
Two of them are married, two are as Beckles described it, "married to the single life," but all four were enjoying the buddy bonding.
"That's what we try to do, find new opportunities to share new experiences together," Ahmasi said.
For others, the day mixed in a little work with the pleasure.
"It's the best networking day of the year," said lobbyist Alan Rifkin, who was schmoozing up the likes of U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin and Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller.
One of the more popular public figures in the corporate tent area was new Maryland football coach Randy Edsall, who was attending his first Preakness along with his wife, Eileen.
Edsall's choice to replace Ralph Friedgen back in January was not universally hailed by Terps fans, but most of those who introduced themselves to Edsall at Pimlico were polite and supportive. Even Miller, who introduced himself recently to Edsall, told him that he wanted the university to hire former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach.
"I think everybody's very excited and very eager to see what we can do here," said Edsall. "The reception's been great."
Edsall was excited about coming to the Preakness, having owned three thoroughbreds a few years while coaching at Connecticut.
"I like the horses," said Edsall, whose horses are now retired. "A couple of them won, but I never got to see any of them race. I think this is a great event and it's great to be a part of it."
Staff writer Don Markus contributed to this article.