The awe-inspiring Noor, one of my top four favorite racehorses. Noor (which is Arabic for “light”) was an Irish-bred stallion born in 1945. His dam was a mare named Queen of Baghdad, a daughter of the English Triple Crown winner Bahram. His sire was Nasrullah. At ages two to four, Noor raced in England with moderate success. Eventually, Charles S. Howard bought Noor and brought him to the United States, where he blossomed and demonstrated his true potential. When Noor turned five, he took the racing world by storm - setting three world records and three track records at distances from 1 1/8 to 1 3/4 miles. In February of 1950, Noor was bested by 1949 Kentucky Derby winner Ponder and Triple Crown Winner Citation in the San Antonio Handicap. He would, however, meet these horses again. They raced two weeks later in the Santa Anita Handicap. Noor blew by Citation, Ponder, and Two Lea to win by 1 and 1/4 lengths in a track record time of 2:00 for 1 1/4 miles. In the San Juan Capistrano Handicap, Noor and Citation met yet again. They fought for the lead, with Noor finally winning by a nose, setting an American record of 2:52 4/5 for 1 3/4 miles. With this win, he became the first horse to beat Citation twice. When June came around, Noor would face Citation again. This time in the Forty-Niners Handicap. Again, Noor hit the wire first, breaking the world record for 1 1/8 miles. A short time later, they raced again in the Golden Gate Handicap, where Noor again defeated Citation by three lengths and broke the world record for 1 1/4 miles. After this race, Noor and Citation went their separate ways. In the Westwood Purse, Noor would meet another Triple Crown winner, Assault, and beat him twice before the year was over. With those defeats, Noor became the first horse to ever beat two Triple Crown winners. The Hollywood Gold Cup was Noor’s final start, where he raced against many great horses such as Triple Crown Winner Assault, 1949 Kentucky Derby winner Ponder, 1950 Horse of the year Hill Prince, and Champion three-year-old filly Next Move. Also in the race were multiple stakes winner Palestinian, On Trust, and Great Circle. Noor flashed by Palestinian to win by a track record time and was named Champion Male Handicap Horse of the Year. At the end of his racing career, Noor had won 12 of his 31 starts with a final record of 31: 12-6-6. As a stud, Noor only sired 254 foals, with 208 making it to the track. Of those 208, 139 were winners. He sired thirteen stakes winners, of which include Boundmain, Flutterby, In Reserve, Joe Price, Lar’s Theme, Noble Noor, Nooran, Noorsage, Noureddin, Prince Noor, Ten Five, Yours, and Zulu Lad. Noor passed away on November 16th, 1974 at the age of 29 and was buried on Loma Rice Ranch. In 2011, his remains were exhumed and moved to Old Friends equine retirement facility in Kentucky, thanks to the efforts of Charlotte Farmer and many others.
"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 one again, as he holds court for all who come to say, ‘well done’" - Charlotte Farmer’s words on Noor’s gravestone.
Noor was a champion of champions, and one of the greatest horses to have lived.
Photo: Gary Parke, Video: click