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The Slice

When someone’s special day is eclipsed by history

We're all familiar with birthdays or wedding anniversaries being overshadowed by something else that happened on that same date.

The classic example might be Sept. 11, 2001.

But what about when you meet someone who has a birthday or anniversary on a date you associate with something else that happened on that day, even if few others recall the date of that event?

Not long ago, a reader mentioned her birthday (or maybe it was her wedding anniversary) as being on June 9. Can't remember how it came up.

I didn't say it at the time, but I thought "Oh, that date's already taken."

You see, June 9 was the date in 1973 when Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes by an astounding 31 lengths.

Many of us who saw it on TV might agree it was one of the more genuinely thrilling sports events ever.

Golfer Jack Nicklaus has talked about getting down on his hands and knees in front of his TV that day to get a closer glimpse of what true greatness looks like.

Sham, a fast horse who had finished second to Big Red in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, stayed with the chestnut horse for a while. But Secretariat was just too much to handle.

Maybe you remember the track announcer's famous call: "He's moving like a tremendous machine."

Thirty-one lengths.

His records still stand, in all three Triple Crown races.

After he died in 1989, a necropsy revealed that Secretariat's healthy heart was more than twice the size of a normal horse's. He was truly one of a kind.

So I hope the reader I spoke with has a good anniversary or birthday on Friday. Many happy returns.

But I'm sorry, June 9th is already taken.

The Slice

The online home for Paul Turner's musings and interactions with disciples of The Slice.