Why was ‘Tar Heel’ popular in Times in 1970?

Curious about how often the New York Times has referred to “Tar Heel” over the past century and a half, I applied the Chronicle tool and was surprised to see a prominent spike in 1970. A big year for politics in North Carolina, perhaps? Or sports?

Nope.

Of the 73 citations I found — only .06 percent of all Times articles — no fewer than 65 reported in agate type on harness racing results from Yonkers and Roosevelt tracks. Mentioned in all: a horse known as Claire’s Tar Heel.

Note to self: Remember to look skeptically at small sample sizes.

 

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