Quest for information—those three words could not begin to describe the journey that consumed over four years of my life. Research through the library, use of interlibrary loans, and sitting for long hours combing through microfilm led to an extraordinary journey into the world of a racing thoroughbred named Noor.
It all started with an inquiry by Gae Seal on Laura Hillenbrand’s website, asking about Charles “Seabiscuit” Howard’s other champion Noor and his burial site at Loma Rica Ranch, Grass Valley, California. I became curious, so I went to the library and began scanning through microfilm from 1950, looking for any references to Noor. Requests for interlibrary loans of leading newspapers in California followed. The journey had begun, Noor’s and mine.
Days, weeks, months, and years passed, as I did this research. Little did I realize that the information I was gathering would help me during one of the most important periods in my life and preserve the legacy of this long forgotten racehorse. Loma Rica Ranch was in a development phase and Noor’s grave was in jeopardy. The training track where Noor was buried was destined to become a business park with buildings and parking lots. If I didn’t try to fight for him, he would be lost forever. Armed with information from over 700 articles, I began attending public hearings stating my reasons why Noor’s grave should be protected. Those articles gave me the base of knowledge that was indisputable, and I used that information to champion his cause.
Finally, an agreement was drawn up between the developer and a descendant of Charles Howard, giving me 18 months to move him. Noor had been dead for 36 years and the condition of his remains concerned me. Funds were raised, and on August 26, 2011, Noor was successfully disinterred. Taking him cross-country to Old Friends in Georgetown, Kentucky, Noor was reburied on August 30, 2011, with ceremonies held the following day.
Whether talking with Planning Commissioners, City Council members, developers, or the media, I could not have completed this mission, had it not been for the articles and on-going assistance from the Reference Librarians. Author Milton Toby has recently written a book entitled, Noor.
Now Noor sleeps the sleep of the prince that he was. People visit Old Friends everyday and hear of his deeds on the track; the four-time conqueror of the mighty Citation.