Old Friends Awaits Noor's Remains

An effort is being made to disinter Hall of Famer Noor and transfer the horse’s remains to Old Friends in Georgetown, Ky.

Noor would be placed in Old Friends’ proposed new cemetery that will be reserved for Hall of Fame inductees. The cemetery will be located near the entrance of the farm in a garden-like setting for all to see as they drive in.

Noor was inducted into racing’s Hall of Fame in 2002 and would join Precisionist, who is currently buried at Old Friends, and likely Skip Away, who is interred at Hopewell Farm, near Midway, Ky. Old Friends’ founder Michael Blowen has had productive talks with Skip Away’s owner Carolyn Hine and Hopewell’s Rick Trontz in regard to getting the horse transferred.

Noor currently is buried in an unmarked grave inside a half-mile training track on Loma Rica Ranch in Grass Valley, Cal., where he lived until his death in 1974 at age 29.

Loma Rica, however, has had to close down and development plans are on the table that would turn the training track into a business park, with the remainder of the ranch to become part of a housing community.

The project to move Noor to Old Friends is spearheaded by Charlotte Farmer, with the help of Blowen and Kittredge Collins, great-great grandson of Noor’s owner Charles Howard, who is best known as the owner of Seabiscuit.

Loma Rica’s veterinarian, Dr. John Peek, who euthanized Noor, was aware of the general vicinity where the horse was buried, but it took a GPR (ground penetrating radar) to locate the exact spot. That spot has since been marked with flags. An agreement was signed to give the principals involved 18 months to remove the horse, which expires in May of 2012. Farmer, who crunched all the figures, says it will take slightly over $5,600 to disinter Noor and ship him to Old Friends. As of now, less than $800 in donations has been received.

Loma Rica, a 450-acre property that was built by Earl McBoyle of the Idaho Maryland Mine, was later purchased by William Gilmore following McBoyle’s death. The goal was to make Loma Rica as beautiful and prestigious a Thoroughbred facility as one would find in Kentucky.

Under the guidance of ranch manager of 37 years, Henry Freitas, the ranch prospered and a half-mile training track ultimately was built with the assistance of Gilmore’s friend, legendary jockey Johnny Longden, who was the regular rider of Noor.

One of those who worked for Freitas at Loma Rica was a young aspiring horseman named John Shirreffs, who worked closely with Noor.

“I had just come out of the Marines and was trying to find my way, and ended up in Grass Valley,” Shirreffs recalled. “I remember Noor was in the first stall on the right hand side of the barn and in the first paddock, and he always did everything first. He was pretty old even then. I probably was the last person to ever breed him, because I would help Henry with the breeding during the winter. There wasn’t much to do in the winter, so I’d put the tack on him and ride him around in the back arena. He had a great personality. He was a beautiful black horse with real high withers and you could tell by looking at him he was a very special horse.”

As for his unmarked grave, Shirreffs said, “They didn’t mark any of the graves. With most of the mares, when we put them to sleep we would bring them up to a hill behind the paddocks and bury them there. But because it was Noor and he was a famous racehorse, they buried him in the infield of the training track.”

Loma Rica currently is owned by the Ronald Getty Trust, which has been cooperative in helping to locate Noor’s burial site and eventually having the horse exhumed.

“Steve Garrett, the developer and spokesperson for the Getty family, was the one who got permission for us to do the GPR,” Farmer said. “It took about an hour to an hour and a half to locate the grave. We flagged it off and then Steve Garrett agreed, along with the Gettys, to have a contract drawn up, giving us 18 months with which to lift Noor out of his grave. It was a wonderful gesture on their part. They could have said this was private property and they were not obligated to do anything. All people knew was that there was this Charles Howard horse of some substance buried somewhere near the training track.”

Farmer became involved with Noor three years ago when she found out through Freitas’ daughter, Roxanne, that Noor had been buried without any marker and basically was just put in the ground.

“The more I got to know about Noor the more I got sucked into his world,” Farmer said. “It was just amazing to learn about this horse. Dr. Peek said three men cried like babies when they had to euthanize him after he had developed a form dementia. He was still tall and regal and still had the look of eagles. I would go out to the grave site, but all I knew was that somewhere in the general vicinity was supposed to be Noor.”

Bred in Ireland, Noor was pretty much a handicap horse in England before finishing third in the 1948 English Derby in a 32-horse field at odds of 22-1. He followed that up with another third, beaten a neck, in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown. His only stakes victory came in the 1 1/2-mile Diomed Stakes at Epsom, 15 days after the Eclipse.

He was sent to America and turned over to trainer Burley Parks. Although he was consistent and performed well in a number of stakes, it wasn’t until Feb. 25, 1950 that he began his amazing run that would put him in the Hall of Fame.

That was the date of the Santa Anita Handicap, where Noor would score his first of four consecutive stakes victories over the great Citation. After defeating the legendary Calumet horse, as well as his illustrious stablemate Two Lea, by 1 1/4 lengths in the Big Cap, Noor won the 1 3/4-mile San Juan Capistrano, edging out Citation by a nose in an epic stretch duel, in which they finished 12 1/2 lengths ahead of the third horse.

Following the death of Howard, Noor continued his dominance over Citation beating the 1948 Triple Crown winner in the Forty-Niners Handicap and Golden Gate Handicap. Although he had been receiving weight from Citation in each of his first three victories, Noor beat him by three lengths in the Golden Gate Handicap giving him a pound.

Noor then traveled east, where he finished second in the Manhattan Handicap and Jockey Club Gold Cup. In the latter, he was defeated by Preakness winner and eventual Horse of the Year Hill Prince.

Following the Belmont meet, Noor returned to California, winning an allowance race and closing out his career with a victory in the Hollywood Gold Cup by a length under 130 pounds, in which he turned the tables on Hill Prince, who finished four lengths behind him in third. Noor covered the 1 1/4 miles in a stakes record 1:59 4/5.

“Unfortunately, Noor never received the publicity he should have,” Farmer said. “That was the year the Korean War broke out, and Howard, who was a tremendous promoter (as he showed with Seabiscuit), died that spring.”

As Farmer pointed out, if she had not stumbled onto Noor and learned about his unmarked grave site, “he would have a parking lot or a building on top of him, but destiny had something planned for him.”

But there is still the question of funding. Anyone wishing to contribute to Noor’s disinterment and move to Old Friends can send their donations via check, money order or PayPal to Old Friends, 1841 Paynes Depot Rd., Georgetown, Ky., 40324 or contact their website (http://www.oldfriendsequine.org/). Please write the name Noor to specify for what your donation is intended.

62 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Giddyup

Great blog and kudos to Charlotte Farmer and everyone involved at Old Friends. Past champions like Noor deserve to have their stories told and to be honored with a respectful grave site.

02 Jul 2011 5:33 PM
Barbara W

Another great article, Steve. I've been following the story on Old Friends website and the Zenyatta blog, but you added the missing pieces to flesh out the whole story. Great job!

02 Jul 2011 6:54 PM
calgirl15

What a story--I hope that bringing Noor's remains to Old Friends becomes a reality.  Thanks for putting the light on this story.  Donation made.

02 Jul 2011 9:44 PM
Trina N

Thanks, Steve, for this article. If everyone who can chips in a little, we can all be part of the history of the great Noor, who deserves a resting place where he will forever be remembered and honored. I've already sent in my donation via PayPal. Thanks again for letting us know.

02 Jul 2011 10:03 PM
fuzzbert

I hope that this move can be accomplished.  Noor is a part of TB history and should be resting in a place worthy of him. Old Friends is a wonderful place, and I know many racing fans would love to stop by and pay their respects.

02 Jul 2011 10:23 PM
Aluminaut

*Noor was my Mom's favorite horse.  She bet him in the SA Handicap against Citation because he got in light and had been carrying weight overseas.  $5 to win; this in contrast to my Dad's enormous across the board bet on Citation.  I heard this story many times growing up.  She still mentions him sometimes when we talk on the phone.  My Mom's 84 now, lives in Missouri and still does carpentry on her house and is sharp as a tack.  

When we had a couple mares, and bred to race, I tried to get her to send a mare to Noor, but our girls weren't a good match--both were large; one 17 3/4 hands, the other 16.2. He was also older, and not the best sire.  

What a horse he was......

03 Jul 2011 1:00 AM
diastu in tempe

Thank you so much, Steve for putting your usual eloquent light on this important effort! So much of our history, regardless of type, slips through our fingers without so much as a good-bye wave. Then one day, we get that heart string tug - how did that happen? Why didn't someone do something? Thankfully for the memory of the great Noor, there is a Charlotte Farmer and a growing cadre of supporters who ARE doing something. Noor's final journey should be one for a TV movie. I am happy to donate and help see him to a proper rest at Old Friends. Thank you, Charlotte! And a shout out to Michael Blowin at Old Friends!

03 Jul 2011 1:44 AM
The Deacon

Steve, all your articles are great but this one touched my heart. My pop, may he rest in peace witnessed that great Santa Anita Handicap when Noor beat the great Citation. In that Golden Gate race, Noor set the world record for a mile and a quarter which stood for quite a while. many folks did not know that I would bet. Noor was a hard hitting beast on the track. Thanks Steve for sharing this flashback. Blogs like like these is what make you so special. No matter who may be s reading them, someone out there has been moved by your words.............

03 Jul 2011 2:49 AM
Laura from RI

Great article !!! Noor was a great horse and had the tenacity, stamina & wherewithall to secure his name in memory. Mr. Howard got a very, very good horse in Noor. Noor proved himself as a son of the great sire Nasrullah and I'm sure he is proud of his grandson Dancer's Image winning the 1968 KY Derby. In regards to Loma Rica training track, I'm sorry to hear/learn it will be a business park. Reminds me of what happened to Narragansett Park Racetrack which today is an industrial park with 2 horses buried in the infield with no markers: Charlie Boy & Adobe Post. Pave paradise & put up a parking lot. So sad.  

03 Jul 2011 3:14 AM
Charlotte Farmer

Thank you for the wonderful article on Noor.  You touched my heart.  You have a special way with words, but then I knew that from reading your book about Kelso, my first love.  Again, just to clarify, Noor was buried whole, and I plan to capture all that was Noor, not just bones.  This is not a symbolic move wherein the bones are the only thing removed from the site.

Trina Nagel has encouraged me to post, to this site, what I had earlier posted to Zenyatta’s site.  Here is what I have planned for Noor once I get him out of the ground.

The box that will contain Noor’s remains is Birch Hardwood Plywood, not your normal plywood.  The box will measure 8’ L x 4’ W x 4’ D.  I am having it stained with Zar Wood Stain #130 Driftwood, which is gorgeous.  It is soft and has a platinum cast to it.  The final coat will be Defthane 2 Polyurethane Clear Satin.  

I am having a stencil made of Howard’s Triangle H logo.  We will mask off the box leaving a 17” square open towards the top.  That square will be sprayed white, then the stencil will be positioned in the middle and we will then spray Howard’s red.  Stencil removed and walla, the famous Triangle H.  The background was always red with the triangle and the “H” in white.  

I bought a nameplate with his name, *Noor.  It is the same kind of nameplate that you see all the time on racing thoroughbreds.  It will be placed directly under the Triangle H, secured with screws.  

The box will have a metal banding that will be a soft metallic copper.  The banding material will go around circumference of the box, top and bottom, to reinforce the box.  There will be joists underneath for added reinforcement as I am expecting about 1-ton of material that will be Noor.  The box will be lined with 12-mil plastic to insure that the remains do not fall through.

Once we have removed all that is Noor, and before the lid is screwed shut, the soil gathered, about 4 tablespoons, from the three tracks where he accomplished his greatest triumphs will be spread over him.  

Roxann Freitas, Henry Freitas daughter, is giving me enough of Loma Rica’s saddle cloths to cover Noor.  The saddle cloths are in the ranches colors, dark blue and white with Loma Rica’s name on it.  We will put as many as are needed over Noor and he will be tucked in.  That way the ranch is always with him.  

I have plans to place something personal that will stay between Noor and me, and will be with him forever.  The plastic will then be wrapped over and stapled to the top edge of the box, cutting off the excess.  The lid will then be placed on and screwed shut.  From there he begins his journey.

I want to thank all who make contributions on Noor’s behalf.  Quoting a line from the movie Secretariat, “I’m his voice.”

03 Jul 2011 5:11 AM
Janey1

This kind of history creates fellowship among lovers of the breed.  Great for racing, and--for your readers!  Thanks yet again for a wonderful piece!

03 Jul 2011 6:27 AM
yani

I have always loved Citation, now knowing this about Noor helps make one of my horse racing favorites more real to me now.

03 Jul 2011 7:39 AM
Steve Haskin

Thanks for the extra info, Charlotte. I've had several people on my Facebook page, where I linked to the story, say the've made donations. Keep up the great work.

03 Jul 2011 9:37 AM
Linda in Texas

Thank you Steve for helping broadcast the word about Noor to all who follow horse racing in one way or another.

This great champion of champions should not be left by himself and paved over and forgotten.

Thank you Racing Gods for caring individuals such as Charlotte Farmer left in the world who care, not only about the past of a horse but the present and most importantly their contribution to the sport when we all are gone.

It seems Ms. Farmer has not missed a single detail that will be required to reposition Noor to the

grand place of distinction among his piers at Old Friends under the loving care of Michael Blowen, Mrs. Blowen and all who will be visiting. If you have never accessed Old Friends on the internet, spend a little time there if you cannot go in person. You won't be disappointed.

Noor was a favorite along with Citation of my mother who is the one whose love of horses and thoroughbred racing that began my interest at 14 before she died in 1954. She was the one who suggested to my dad that after she was gone to make sure i had a horse. And he did, purchased five of them for me.

Again when Michael asks, i am sending a check to help bring Noor home to Kentucky.

Thank you Charlotte Farmer, you are what i call true grit and that is a compliment. Hell hath no fury like a woman on a mission.

03 Jul 2011 10:50 AM
'Biscuit Fan

It's ironic that Noor, like Seabiscuit, was owned by Charles Howard, who buried the latter in a very prominantly marked grave at his Ridgewood Ranch in California.

03 Jul 2011 11:28 AM
Rachel NH

I am going to sound like a kill-joy here, and I really don't mean to, but in 2010 the top 10 trainers alone made their owners app $100,000,000...and dear Ms Farmer has to plead for donations to move this great champion?

03 Jul 2011 11:46 AM
Trina N

CAN YOU CAN THE DIRT? Charlotte needs help getting four tablespoons or so of dirt from the winner's circle at Golden Gate Fields racetrack in Berkeley to go in Noor's coffin with him, as she alluded to in her comment above. If anyone can assist in this, could you please contact me at trinambn@yahoo.com?

03 Jul 2011 12:16 PM
Needler in Virginia

'Biscuit Fan, I think I'm correct in saying that Seabiscuit's grave is NOT marked except by a tree, and that only a few people knew where he lay. Clearly, the Howards felt that the horses remained alive in their hearts and memories and that their remains should not be marked. That is NOT to say Noor (nor any other horse) should ever be covered up by some damn parking lot; Noor belongs at Old Friends. He obviously was loved by a great many and should be remembered. Neither Tarmac nor asphalt make good memories...........

Cheers and safe trips.

03 Jul 2011 1:48 PM
Linda in Texas

Rachel NH - Ms. Farmer is not the only one who has to plead for help and donations. No rule of law binds a breeder/owner/trainer to a positive retirement or resting place for any of their horses. Most do it because it is the decent thing to do. That is a whole new subject.

As 'Biscuit Fan stated, it is ironic that plans for Noor were not as Seabiscuit's were. It would be interesting to know why.

But that aside and nevertheless,The Noor Project will be successful because good hearted racing fans from all walks of life will see to it that he receives the respect he deserves the old fashioned way, by earning it!

And Zenyatta's favorite charity is Old Friends, i might add.

Hope you have success Trina N, i am nowhere near San Francisco or i would gladly do this for you. I bet someone steps forward.

03 Jul 2011 1:54 PM
Kathleen K

Steve your words are so beautiful you could make a statue cry.  You pay Noor a great honor by writing about him.  Charlotte has worked so hard on this project for the last three years.  It has been difficult at times but she has come thru like the true champion she is.  She does great honor to Noor and to all the other horses we have not been able to save.  I so want to see him at Old Friends where he may at last rest in peace safe and secure.  Where people can pay their respects to him and others who have made racing a better game.  He so deserves this move.  I urge everyone who can to donate even if it is just a little it all helps and it is so appreciated.  Thank you Steve for being there.

03 Jul 2011 3:46 PM
longtimeracingfan

Omigawsh, Steve, you've done it again.... but this time I'm sitting here a blubbering puddle.

*Noor (as he was then, before the asterisk was dropped for imported horses) was THE horse who sealed my love for the TB... I was about 10 years old, had gotten a new bicycle (white with pink trim and green pinstriping) for Christmas. We lived in the San Fernando Valley, where Northridge was once called the "horse capital of the world" for the number of horse ranches there --- mostly TBs but many others as well. Pure heaven for a horse crazy kid. One of the many rambles I went on with my newfound freedom of wheels was to see the horse farms up on the hill about 3-4 miles north of where we lived, down in the walnut orchards. I went down a dirt road and saw a fence behind which a horse was grazing, it was a white rail fence (how horse-farmy can you get?) and the horse was coal black, and very big to the eyes of a kid... he just ambled over to see what I had to offer, allowed me to pet his nose and stroke his forehead... his halter gave me his name.... *NOOR.

I made several visits to my friend and never once did he offer to nip or bite or act aggressively. I had no idea who he was, and I am guessing he was turned for a layup or similar... a later visit to this farm got me a brief tour of the stallion barn (the boys were all turned out to graze) --- 4 huge stalls, deeeeeep straw bedding, lots of light and immaculately clean. All of which I can see as vividly today as about 59 years ago...  of course that place has been a tract-house setting for 30 or more years, what a shame...

I was witness to Citation's last race (saw him in person as well), and cheered for Native Dancer in the Derby (and hated Dark Star unreasonably for many years thereafter)... and followed the wonderful Swaps through his career... and was entertained and thrilled by the heart-stopping Silky Sullivan... but the one who really sealed the deal was *Noor. I have had stallions of other breeds (mostly Arabians) but this beautiful, gentle boy was the one who taught me they can be gentle and "just horses" --- while being given full respect for what they COULD do...  

What a wonderful effort, and I am now on my way over to PayPal to add my small donation to the fund.

Charlotte Farmer, you are a treasure.

03 Jul 2011 4:35 PM
Karen in Texas

Thank you, Steve, for bringing us this story of Noor and of the plans for a Hall of Fame cemetery at Old Friends. The idea is excellent, especially for horses whose previous resting places are being disturbed or abolished. I'm guessing that the money for Noor will be raised quickly through donations now that the need is known.

'Biscuit Fan---Seabiscuit was buried at "a secret site on the ranch" and the location disclosed only to the sons of Mr. Howard, according to writer Laura Hillenbrand. It is marked only by an oak tree.

03 Jul 2011 5:57 PM
'Biscuit Fan

Needler, Seabiscuit's grave is not now marked. However, he was buried by his owner, Charles Howard, in a very prominant location on his ranch which was marked by a life-size statue of the horse. No marker remains today and his remains are, as many fear Noor's would one day be, under a parking lot. Mr. Howard graciously allowed the public to visit the grave until the ranch was sold after Howard's death in 1950. The account of Seabiscuit's burial in the Hillenbrand book is not factual.

03 Jul 2011 7:09 PM
calico cat

Mr. Haskin,

Thank you for bringing this effort to light. A friend of mine (who is part of the Haskin Blog Group) alerted us to this last week by forwarding an article that appeared in the L.A. Times.

Since then, I've had the pleasure of talking to Charlotte Farmer on the phone. You couldn't meet a friendlier more enthusiastic champion for a cause. She is truly dedicated to bringing Noor's remains to Old Friends and with all our help, I'm positive that she will get this accomplished.

Charlotte,

Thanks to you, Noor will finally get a permanent resting place where people will be paying their respect, saying his beautiful name (which means "light") and retelling the story of this magnificent Thoroughbred and the heroine who would not let him be forgotten and paved over. How fantastic is that!!!

03 Jul 2011 8:16 PM
Charlotte Farmer

@Steve – Thank YOU and all the generous and warm people who are posting to this site for your kindness.  

@longtimeracingfan – Your story touched my heart.  Thank you for sharing with all of us the story about the day you first met Noor.  What a wonderful memory and so vivid in the retelling.  I can visualize Noor checking you out.  It would definitely have been a Kodak moment.

@Giddyup, Barbara W, calgirl15, Trina N, fuzzbert, Aluminaut, diastu in tempe, The Deacon, Laura from RI, Janey1, yani, Linda in Texas, 'Biscuit Fan, Rachel NH, Needler in Virginia, Linda in Texas, Kathleen K, ongtimeracingfan, Karen in Texas:

For each of you I thank you for your stories, for caring and sharing.  You are very special and I won’t forget your kindness to Noor and to me.  In honor of Noor’s Irish heritage, may the wind be always at your backs . . .

@Noor’s Headstone – I just got word back today from Michael Blowen regarding Noor’s headstone.  A long time ago I wrote up something, that should I ever get Noor to a place where he would be safe I wanted engraved on his headstone.  I shared the words with Michael and he has agreed to include them on the marker that will be placed at Noor’s grave there at Old Friends.  Here are my words for my boy:

Beneath this memorial, Noor, a horse of royal breeding now sleeps.  His name echoes with sweet whispers down the long corridors of racing’s past.  His winning spirit now shines in the sunlight once again, as he holds court for all who come to say, “Well done.”

03 Jul 2011 8:35 PM
Delrene

A great commentary on a wonderful gesture by Ms. Farmer.  Thank you all.  I'll be sending my donation to Old Friend's.  Thanks Steve for helping get a wider audience for this worthy cause.  I'm sorry I never saw this horse, but you are all bringing his story for all of us to read and imagine his incredible impact on the horseracing world.

03 Jul 2011 9:05 PM
Kitten's Kitten

I think it's a shame that more of racing history is being lost to land development.  I wish that farms, training tracks, functioning race tracks, etc, especially those from such an early era could be saved and preserved for current and future racing fans to enjoy.

03 Jul 2011 10:29 PM
Paula Higgins

Steve, I send $50.00 every two weeks/$100.00 a month to Old Friends (under my husband's name/Paypal acct.) Should I earmark half of it to Noor's reburial? Any thoughts? I want to make sure that the horses who are alive are taken care of as well. To be honest that is my priority but I would split it up if you think it is needed. I don't know what their financial situation is and I don't want to cut out money for the horses currently there if it is needed.

03 Jul 2011 11:07 PM
Aluminaut

A Haskin blogger friend of mine suggested I post this link.  There are photos of *Noor.  What a regal horse:

horseandman.com/.../the-famous-racehorse-noor-and-things-that-go-bump-in-the-night

03 Jul 2011 11:30 PM
Needler in Virginia

'Biscuit Fan.... I'm a fan of the Biscuit, too.....but I wasn't referring to the Hillebrand book when I first posted about the grave. I was referring to the book by Jani Buron, RIDGEWOOD RANCH. She lived at the Ranch in the 40's, saw Seabiscuit living, and has included loads of photos of her life there...including an aerial map of Ridgewood which shows the site of the statue, and almost everything else on the Ranch at the time, but NOT the grave. She also has photos and descriptions of the statue, and says it's the same as the one at Santa Anita, which it obviously is, but never identifies the statue as the grave site and deflects that question when asked.

But, LET'S NOT FIGHT........other than the tragic loss of Seabisuit's grave site forever, it really doesn't matter much who is right, right? Let's just be glad Noor will not be lost, and be VERY glad there is a Charlotte Farmer in the world.

Cheers and safe trips.

03 Jul 2011 11:38 PM
Steve Haskin

Paula, that's a very generous gesture on your part. As the Old Friends' residents are always well taken care of, I think putting some it toward Noor would be a good idea, considering every little bit helps.

03 Jul 2011 11:58 PM
'Biscuit Fan

Needler,

The statue that was at Ridgewood, and is now at Museum of Racing at Saratoga, was originally placed on Seabiscuit's grave by Charles Howard. There were news stories published at the time of Seabiscuit's death that outline Howard's intention to do this in honor of his horse.

The statue you see in the aerial photo IS the gravesite and has been paved over since then. Both past and present residents of the ranch are quite aware of it's location and it was no secret when Mr. Howard buried his belove horse in 1947.

The statue at Santa Anita was the first to be made and is not the same one that stood at the ranch.

I have an eyewitness statement from another girl who resided at the ranch at the time of Seabiscuit's death in 1947. It was not a secret at the time and the story about Howard only telling his sons of the location is a myth and is demonstratably inaccurate.

04 Jul 2011 12:20 AM
msbmeadows

Trina,

I can help with the dirt from Golden Gate if you still need it, I know the manager of the Turf Club, will follow up with the e-mail you posted, thank you Steve and Charlotte for the loving tribute to Noor.

04 Jul 2011 1:01 AM
Bellwether

NEEDLER IS RITE ON TIME ABOUT "THE BISCUITS" GRAVE...WONDERFUL TALE MR. STEVE...BACK...BACK...BACK!!!...ty...

04 Jul 2011 2:44 AM
predict

Talk about a winning place bet. What could be better than the feeling one will get, knowing their contribution to "Place" the remains of Noor at Old Friends, is going to a truly worthy cause. You never know, the "racing gods" just might return your generosity tenfold. I'm sure if Noor has any pull with them (and I'm sure he does) he'll be pulling for you down the stretch.

04 Jul 2011 2:59 AM
carmelab

Biscuit Fan & Needler--I've been to Ridgewood Ranch several times.  It's now owned (a part of it anyway) by a church, and they allow tours of the ranch including the stallion barn, mare barns, Howard home, and other outbuildings that are, sadly, falling down unless $$ come in to help with restoration.  It's quite a place, even without its full former glory.  As for Seabiscuit's burial site, it remains a mystery...it's NOT marked, it's not a parking lot, but it's believed to be somewhere near the Howard home so they could sit on their rather large patio & see it.

It's definitely worth a visit to see the place.  It's my favorite part of CA...beautiful country up there.

04 Jul 2011 10:22 AM
Karen in Texas

Aluminaut---Thanks for posting that link! I enjoyed the pictures of beautiful Noor, plus the intriguing story of "barn activity". Must be quite a place to visit.

04 Jul 2011 1:32 PM
Needler in Virginia

carmelab, thanks for the suggestion and the clarifications. If Virginia were ANY closer to Ridegewood you can bet I'd be there even if gas weren't more expensive than my mortgage!

Steve, my profound apologies for cluttering up your Noor blog with this nonsense. I should probably shut up right now, but then you know me, and you know I'm not shutting up just yet.

To Biscuit Fan, clearly, I've touched a VERY tender nerve and it sounds like the Biscuit Fan DOES wanna fight. Not me, folks. I'm too old, and there are far too many important fights to be fought...I gotta pick 'em carefully, and NEVER meant to ignite this particular "discussion".

And, because clarity means a lot to me, if you go back to my second post of 3 July at 11:38 pm, I thought what I had said was that the two statues..... the one at Ridgewood (now in Saratoga) and the one at Santa Anita were identical but not the same one. Obviously, what I wrote came out wrong, and for that I apologize to everyone. I need to vet myself better.

And back to Biscuit Fan, can you lighten up just a bit? I tried to make peace; clearly, you don't want that and that's fine, but I've apologized and other than THAT what do you want? I could go find a sword to fall on but.........really?

Can we get back to Noor and Charlotte Farmer? That seems a far more productive way to spend the afternoon. And while we're at it, how about three rousing cheers for Michael Blowen and ALL the Old Friends?? Hip, hip, HOORAY!!!!!!!!!!!!

On this hot, humid, lousy day I'm wishing everyone cheers and safe trips, and OOPS! I forgot: happy 4th to all.

04 Jul 2011 1:38 PM
Charlotte Farmer

To longtimeracingfan, I shared your story with Howard’s great great grandson.  It touched my heart and I want to thank you for sharing it.  I would have loved to have been there to see Noor staring at you while you petted him; what a Kodak moment.  I got word from Michael Blowen on Noor’s headstone.  A long time ago I wrote up something, that should I ever get Noor to a place where he would be safe I wanted this on his headstone.   Michael has agreed to include my words on his headstone, which will be placed at Noor’s grave there at Old Friends.  Here are the words that I wrote:

Beneath this memorial, Noor, a horse of royal breeding now sleeps.  His name echoes with sweet whispers down the long corridors of racing’s past.  His winning spirit now shines in the sunlight once again, as he holds court for all who come to say, “Well done.”

04 Jul 2011 1:42 PM
I like Candy

Upon seeing a picture of Noor, it became instantly obvious to me what John Shirreffs was seeing as he gazed wistfully upon Zenyatta.

And then to read his description of Noor -- "He had a great personality. He was a beautiful black horse with real high withers and you could tell by looking at him he was a very special horse.” -- you can see God's hand at work.

04 Jul 2011 3:11 PM
Paula Higgins

Thanks Steve. I appreciate the information and I will do so for awhile.

04 Jul 2011 4:03 PM
Trina N

Re: "Can you get the dirt?" Thank you Heidi and Ariadna for your responses. It looks like between the two of you we have the problem solved! Thanks so much!

04 Jul 2011 4:11 PM
longtimeracingfan

Thank you Charlotte... it means a lot to me... and your headstone memorial is lovely. More tears...

Just thinking back, it's amazing (compared to nowadays) that a 10 year old girl could do some of the things I did... including marching up to the fence of a strange stallion (which I was unaware of at the time) and do what I did, not once, but several times. All I knew was that he was gorgeous, gentle, very tall, and obviously a Thoroughbred since the TB farms were the ones with the big paddocks and white rail fences...

Times have sure changed...

If I can get this to work (I'm a computer USER not techie--- I love and hate them at the same time!) it is a link to the view of Loma Rica Ranch on Google Earth.

39°13'35.42" N 121°01'26.63" W

Select and copy it and then paste it into the Google Earth browser. If that doesn't work, I can't help further--! It worked when I tested it.

The ranch is down to 53 acres now, but the track is right alongside a road and can be plainly seen both from the satellite view and from ground level (through trees). I'm about 100 miles or so from there, but rarely get up into that neck of the woods. Now I'll really HAVE to go visit Old Friends (and all the lovelies at the Horse Park as well).

Charlotte, how did you come to be involved with this? Did you know of Noor earlier?

Steve, Charlotte, please keep us updated on progress... just looking at his photos now brings him back to me in full color.

Hmmmm.... no wonder John Shirreffs has a soft spot for very tall, very dark horses...

04 Jul 2011 4:41 PM
Terry M.

I was all set to post a link to a story and photos of *Noor, but I see Aluminaut  already has posted the same link. Thanks! What a handsome black horse he was. Thank you Steve for the story and to Old Friends and Charlotte Farmer for arranging to bring *Noor to a permanent home.

04 Jul 2011 6:21 PM
Needler in Virginia

Well done and well said, Charlotte. Thank you for everything you're doing to save his memory. I bet Noor runs through your dreams, right??

Cheers and VERY safe trips to you.

04 Jul 2011 6:48 PM
diastu in tempe

I believe Charlotte used ground-penetrating radar to find the exact location of Noor's grave. Now I'm wondering, from the thread above, if a similar effort should be made for Seabiscuit? How long before what is left of Ridgewood is paved over? Perhaps it's time for a "national cemetary" for threatened racing greats at Old Friends?

04 Jul 2011 6:50 PM
arlingtonfan

Glad to hear the news about Noor. I just visited Ridgewood Ranch recently and was informed there that Seabiscuit's remains now lie under a parking lot, which breaks my heart. I know that the foundation trying to preserve the ranch doesn't have a lot of funds, but I wish someone who does could step in to locate those remains and have them excavated and placed under the beautiful statue of Seabiscuit currently there at Ridgewood. It's been 64 years since he died, but surely bones (and memories) endure longer than that.

04 Jul 2011 7:02 PM
Trina N

Dear msbmeadows,

Thank you for your offer to “get the dirt.” As I posted above, I think the problem is solved, but will post again if it turns out more help is needed. Thanks again!

04 Jul 2011 7:16 PM
'Biscuit Fan

Needler,

I'm sorry that you interpret my comments as wanting to "fight". My intention was to provide information to anyone who might care and I'm not offended by anything you've said and there is nothing for which you should apologize. A sword to fall on? I don't think I'm the one who needs to lighten up!

I have been to Ridgewood twice and I am aquainted with both past and present residents of the ranch. The facts speak for themselves, at least to those who are willing to listen to them.

04 Jul 2011 10:20 PM
Charlotte Farmer

To msbmeadows - Yes I still am in need of 4 Tablespoons of dirt from Golden Gate.  

To answer longtimeracingfan - Yes, I believe John Shirreffs does have a thing for tall and beautiful horses such as Noor and Zenyatta.  Noor stood 17 hands while Zenyatta stands 17.2.  They both were lucky enough to have John in their world.

I had never heard of Noor until a lady posted a question to Laura Hillenbrand’s website back in 2003.  I had saved a copy thinking that at some point, when I had time, I would try and answer her about Noor and Loma Rica.  I love a good challenge.  

She believed that Loma Rica had been owned by Howard and had questions regarding Noor and his racing career.  Then in fall of 2007, while I was purging materials and came across the note I had made to myself.  I decided to set about and see what I could find out about this horse named Noor.  Contacted the Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce to see what, if any, information they could give me; was there still anybody living from that time period.  I was told to get ahold of Dr. Peek who could help me find the answers I was looking for.  Called him, and it was at the point I entered Noor’s world.  

Dr. Peek had been the veterinarian for Loma Rica and also the one who had put Noor down.  He had me contact Roxann Freitas, Henry Freitas’s daughter.  Henry had been Loma Rica’s ranch manager for 37 years and Roxann knew more about Loma Rica than anyone else.  Roxann and I met there at the ranch and have since become very good friends.  From there the rest is history.  I came face-to-face with this horse who captured my heart and my imagination.  

04 Jul 2011 10:57 PM
Old Horse Lover

I hope he gets to be put into a place of honor he deserves it.

LETS NOT OFRGET THE HORSE THAT ARE HSIPPUNG OUT EVERYDAY TO HORSE SLAUGHTER IN CANADA AND MEXICO.CONTACT WASHINGTON AND LET THEM KNOW THEY NEED TO PASS S.1176 AND BAN THE SLAUGHYER OF HORSE FOREVER IN THE UNITED STATES AND STOP THE SHIPPING OF THESE HELPLESS ANIMALS TO ANY COUNTRY TO BE SLAUGHTERED.

05 Jul 2011 11:01 AM
TheMightyCurlin

Thank You Steve, for the story on Noor. It was very interesting!! I never saw Noor race, but I Hope & Pray he receives the final resting place he deserves, at Old Friends.

05 Jul 2011 3:05 PM
Debeleb54

Steve, thanks so much for this article. And a special thanks to Charlotte for reminding of us of what a great horse Noor was. My dad was a huge fan of his and while he was standing stud at Loma Rica, we went to visit him and see his new foals each April in the mid 60's. Being in grade school, I'd never seen a horse as huge as Noor,  nor as black. His handlers would open his stall door (yup, first stall on the right!) and let us gaze upon him. He was 19 the first time we saw him. I didn't appreciate him or his accomplishments at that age, but with age comes wisdom and I've learned about all of the racing greats of my dad's time and follow those of today. I first became aware of Noor being buried at Loma Rica right after reading "Seabiscuit" and seeing the movie. My dad had passed away and I know he's smiling, knowing that Noor will go to Old Friends where this old friend can pay her respects. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be part of this wonderful project.

05 Jul 2011 11:16 PM
Charlotte Farmer

I just wanted everyone to know that we have the dirt situation solved.  Thank you for the offers to help.  Yes, Needler in Virginia, Noor does run through my dreams.  His spirit is always with me.  I was recently asked what will I do once this accomplished.  To that I answer I don’t think that far ahead.  Will I feel a let down or loss, absolutely not.  Destiny had another journey in mind for Noor; the big boy has one more race to win.  Noor is coming down the homestretch and once he has crosses the finish line he can finally rest, this horse of royal breeding.  

06 Jul 2011 4:57 AM
Needler in Virginia

It's amazing, Charlotte, how these creatures touch us and bring out the poet in us all. You obviously have the feeling for Noor that demands you do this. There really are some things that do that to us, and you've been bitten BIG TIME! Noor won't stop running through your dreams even after he's found his permanent home in Kentucky; he'll be with you always.

Well done, good luck and safe trips, Charlotte....and by the way, HERE'S TO DREAMS!!!

06 Jul 2011 9:45 AM
John from Seattle

Steve,

I was especially awaken by the comments by John Shirreffs.  This trainer might be a wellspring of stories in American thoroughbred history above and beyond Zenyatta.

06 Jul 2011 5:29 PM
'Biscuit Fan

Many thanks to Steve for this story and to Charlotte, Michael, Old Friends and all those involved in helping move the great Noor to a resting place of respectability and honor that befits his great accomplishments on the track!

07 Jul 2011 11:48 AM
Charlotte Farmer

I just wanted to give an update to anyone who might be reading this story.  As of today, Friday, July 08, 2011, Old Friends has received a total of $2,485.  For all those who have given to Noor, again I thank you.

08 Jul 2011 11:05 PM
calico cat

Mr. Haskin,

I've just read on Esther Marr's new blog that Michael Blowen said that enough money has been collected to move Noor's remains to Old Friends!!!! What great news!!!

Charlotte,

Mission accomplished!!! I'm very, very happy for you! Without your efforts, Noor's remains would be forever lost and memory of him would fade silently away.

Thank you Mr. Haskin for writing this article. You have such a following that I'm sure a lot of the contributions came in because of your beautiful writing.

Kudos all around to everybody involved in this effort. This is awesome!!!

11 Jul 2011 7:38 PM
Debeleb54

Charlotte, when the time comes, will it be possible to witness Noor being exumed? I live in the Sacramento area and having just returned from a trip to Old Friends and Kentucky, won't be able to be there for his burial there. It would mean so much to me and my sister to pay our respects in such a way. You can contact me at debeleb54@att.net. Thank you again for your wonderful information. Your quote for his casket is so befitting a horse of Noor's stature.

13 Jul 2011 5:49 PM
Capricelee

I'm coming into this conversation late, but thanks again, Steve for an enlightening and touching article. I am sending in my donation today.

Note to KATHLEEN K: I too grew up in the San Fernando Valley in the '50's & '60's, and I used to ride my bike up to Northridge Farms -- a magical place -- a little part of Heaven dropped into our otherwise dry, desert valley. I have sweet memories of the horses there and the people who were so kind to me. Thanks for reviving a wonderful childhood memory. I agree, it is painful to see what replaced those beautiful Thoroughbred farms.

04 Aug 2011 11:03 AM
Ellie

So sad to lose these farms. Otherwise, what a great story. Isn't it interesting how things go and how the horses, people, and places intertwine.I didn't expect for John Shirreffs to come up, but there he was! Donation made!  

19 Aug 2011 8:21 PM

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