Creepy Coincidence: Belmont Race Winners Wore 9, 1 and 1 on Sept. 11 Anniversary

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The field heads down the front stretch at Belmont

On the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the first three winners at Belmont this past Sunday were horses bearing the numbers 9, 1 and 1.

David Jacobson, the trainer at the stable which owns Say Toba Sandy and Wishful Tomcat — the day’s first two winners — understandably got caught up in the eerie coincidence, saying that “the odds were probably about a million to one.”

(MORE: TIME’s Beyond 9/11 Coverage)

As it turns out, the pick-three result was considerably less, paying out only $18.60 for a $2 bet. However, the bookmakers would have been assessing the odds of each race on a purely sporting basis rather than an emotional level, so the fact that 9, 1 and 1 came out on top still makes it an incredible story (though don’t expect Hollywood to make a movie à la Seabiscuit just yet.)

The Belmont track also has a connection to that horrific day 10 years ago as it served as one of the staging areas for workers and emergency vehicles in the aftermath of the attack on the Twin Towers.

A breakdown of the three races reveals that, first up, Say Toba Sandy, was always in contention for the win. Second horse, Wishful Tomcat, took an early lead and refused to lose. Both winners were ridden by the jockey David Cohen.

But it was after Wishful Tomcat won that Belmont began to buzz with punters becoming aware of the significance of the numbers. And sure enough, jockey Simon P. Husbands took the 1-horse, Haya’s Boy, to glory in race number three. For added drama, not that events in Belmont required it, the thoroughbred even came from behind to seal victory.

“No one even thought about the 9-1-1 angle until we won the second race,” said Jacobson. “I’m sure that a lot of fans and bettors took 9-1-1 as a pick three because of the day, but my concern is to win one race at a time — and when this happened it just seemed very special.”

Special. Staggering. Sublime. Pick your own ‘S’ word. But it’s further proof of the magic of sports. (via NY Post)

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Glen Levy is an Executive Producer at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @glenjl. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.