Old Friends at Old Friends – A Visit to Great-Grandpa’s Grave

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Great-Grandpa is buried at Old Friends? Yes. Our very first mare’s name was Permanent Cut. (If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll undoubtedly recognize the name.) She was bred by Dan Lasater in Florida. Her sire (dad) was a son of the great European champion, Ribot. Her dam (mom) was by the very good Nasrullah son, Jaipur. Even more interesting was that her grand-dam (grandmother) was by the great son of Nasrullah, Noor. Noor is buried at Old Friends.

Noor (Stallion photo)

Noor
(Stallion photo)

Here’s Permanent Cut’s pedigree

PERMANENT CUT (USA) b. F, 1981 {16} DP = 7-4-7-0-4 (22) DI = 1.93   CD = 0.45

  Permian (USA) 1971 Ribot (GB) 1952 Tenerani (ITY) 1944
 
  Romanella (ITY) 1943
 
  Pontivy (USA) 1959 Battlefield (USA) 1948
 
  Mahari (USA) 1954
Permanent Cut
(USA) 1981 Jaidan (USA) 1969 Jaipur (USA) 1959 Nasrullah (GB) 1940
 
  Rare Perfume (USA) 1947
 
  Dawn Fleet (USA) 1953 Noor (GB) 1945
 
  Monsoon (USA) 1942
 
Permanent Cut in 1989

Permanent Cut in 1989

 

Permanent Cut Noor's Great Granddaughter

Permanent Cut
Noor’s Great Granddaughter

Noor was born in 1945 in Ireland. The black son of Nasrullah was bred by the Aga Khan III. He was first raced by his breeder but purchased as a two-year-old by Charles S. Howard. If the name Howard rings a bell, you probably either read the story of Seabiscuit or saw the movie. While Noor won on the turf in Britain, he excelled on the dirt in the U.S.A.

Noor (Photo from Charlotte Farmer)

Noor
(Photo from Charlotte Farmer)

Even those who don’t follow horse racing closely probably recognize the name “Citation.” Citation was one of Calumet Farms’ triple-crown winners from the 1940s. He also had the longest unbeaten (16 straight) streak in thoroughbred racing for almost 50 years. He could beat almost every horse on any track – that was until he met Noor.

Noor's 1950 Hollywood Gold Cup (photos from "Noor: In Memory of a Champion" Facebook Page

Noor’s 1950 Hollywood Gold Cup
(photos from “Noor: In Memory of a Champion” Facebook Page

Noor (whose regular jockey was the famous Johnny Longden) defeated Citation four times, in the Santa Anita Handicap at 1¼ miles, the San Juan Capistrano Handicap at 1¾ miles in world record time, the Forty Niners Handicap at 1⅛ miles in track record time, and the Golden Gate Handicap. In the latter event, Noor conceded weight to Citation and set a world record of 1:58 which stood as an American record on a dirt track until Spectacular Bid broke it 30 years later. Citation’s times in these races would have also been records, but Noor ran faster than any horse in history up to that point.

Noor & Johnny Longden American Handicap

Noor & Johnny Longden
American Handicap

Noor - Johnny Longden up (Photo from Devora Berliner, creator of Noor Facebook page)

Noor – Johnny Longden up
(Photo from Devora Berliner, creator of Noor Facebook page)

On his way to being named 1950 U.S. Champion Handicap Male Horse, Noor beat not only Citation, but he also beat Horse of the Year Hill Prince, Derby winner Ponder, and twice overtook another Triple Crown winner, Assault. This made Noor the only horse in American racing history to defeat two Triple Crown winners. Sadly, Charles Howard died in June of 1950 and never saw his horse crowned champion.

Noor Battles Citation 1950 San Juan Capistrano)

Noor Battles Citation
1950 San Juan Capistrano)

 

Noor Wins By A Nose (1950 San Juan Capistrano)

Noor Wins By A Nose
(1950 San Juan Capistrano)

After his championship year, Noor was retired to the breeding shed. He first went to Kentucky (where he sired our mare’s grand-dam, Dawn Fleet, who was born in 1953 – the same year as I). He sired 13 stakes winners, but Dawn Fleet went on to become a very important mare and she and her dam, Monsoon, went on to be foundation mares for many, many stakes winners (not including my dear old Permanent Cut) and can be seen in the pedigrees of many top horses.

Noor on His Way to Kentucky with Trainer Burley Parke

Noor on His Way to Kentucky
with Trainer Burley Parke

Noor Arrives in Kentucky

Noor Arrives in Kentucky

Noor (What a Beautiful Head!)

Noor
(What a Beautiful Head!)

After 1954, Noor returned to the sight of his greatest achievements, California.

Noor with Trainer Burley Parke

Noor with Trainer Burley Parke

Noor was an imposing individual with terrific balance. He was very tall – over 17 hands (one hand equals 4 inches) at the withers. He was very much the same size as the amazing Zenyatta Unlike his sire, Noor was known to have a very pleasant disposition until the age of 29 when he developed equine dementia. Even Zenyatta’s trainer, John Shirreffs, became a fan of Noor. As a very young man, Shirreffs would tack a 19-year-old Noor up during the winter and ride him around the back arena at Loma Rica Ranch.

Noor Obituary (Photo from Horseandman)

Noor Obituary
(Photo from Horseandman)

He lived at Loma Rica until his death in 1974. Upon his death, Noor was buried in an unmarked grave (which was common in that era) the infield of the half-mile training track at Loma Rica. He was gone and almost forgotten by many. In 1999, however, Blood-Horse Magazine released their list of the 100 top champion thoroughbred racehorses of the 20th Century. Noor was listed at number 69. Then, in 2002 (any far later than one would think), Noor was inducted into the Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame at Saratoga in New York.

 

That was not to be the end of his story. Loma Rica Ranch was sold and a business park and residential development were planned for the land. That is when racing enthusiast, Charlotte Farmer, got involved. Not willing to see the beautiful champion remain buried under what would become a parking lot, Ms. Farmer went to work and got the wheels in motion to have Noor disinterred and brought to Old Friends in Georgetown, Kentucky. 

Charlotte Farmer (Noor's Greatest Fan)

Charlotte Farmer
(Noor’s Greatest Fan)

In March of 2010, using ground penetrating radar, Noor’s remains were located. On August 26, 2011, the bones of the great racehorse were very carefully exhumed from the earth and reverently placed in a wooden coffin. The long trek across country began. On August 31, 2011, Noor was buried with a fitting funeral/memorial at Old Friends. Ms. Farmer completed her mission of love by attending the service and seeing that Noor had a fitting headstone. I’d like to take this moment to, personally, thank Ms. Farmer for her dedication to making sure that Noor finally got the respect and resting place he so richly deserves.

 

Great Grandpa's Grave (the Amazing Noor at Rest at Old Friends)

Great Grandpa’s Grave
(the Amazing Noor at Rest at Old Friends)

This past summer (almost exactly two years later), I finally got to pay my respects to a grand champion and the great-grandpa of my beloved mare. I couldn’t help but shed tears for Noor and for my old girl. I wish I’d known Noor. He embodied all the things in a horse I’d grown up loving. He was big, black, could run like the wind, and – by most accounts – had a very pleasant personality for a stallion. He was, in all ways, a Champion.

Noor's Headstone (With Utmost Thanks to Ms. Charlotte Famer)

Noor’s Headstone
(With Utmost Thanks to Ms. Charlotte Famer)

This is the final post in my current series on Old Friends. I want to particularly thank Lorraine Jackson for her article on Noor, and Devora Berliner, creator of the Noor Facebook webpage “Noor: In Memory of a Champion.” I want to send special thanks to the amazing Charlotte Farmer for sharing her photos and research, and for her fortitude and persistence in not allowing this magnificent horse to be forgotten. As always, a huge “thank you” goes to all the wonderful people at Old Friends for finding a special burial plot where many can come to pay their respects and learn about this worthy champion.

Noor's Headstone (epitaph by Ms. Charlotte Famer)

Noor’s Headstone
(epitaph by Ms. Charlotte Famer)

Remember, it takes a great deal of money to support all the horses at Old Friends. They give the horses the kind of life they so richly deserve. Old Friends gratefully accepts donations (which are tax-deductible) and has some terrific items for purchase (some on Ebay). All of the profits go to help the horses. Please check out their website ” (www.oldfriendsequine.org ) and see if you, too, might want to be one who helps Old Friends and their tremendous mission.

 

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Rapid Redux

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

 

A funny thing happened on the way to blog post “Of Snowshoes & Faceplants.” Who could have ever expected that it would get to be January 5, and there not be any snow in our part of Michigan? Actually, there’s so little snow all over Michigan that several planned events (including one mushing event) have had to be rescheduled. So, until we all get the snow we need, that post will have to wait.

Photo by Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club

I’m just as happy, though, as there’s something happening that is remarkable. That something is a horse called Rapid Redux!

Photo by Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club

Rapid Redux (RR) is a nicely-bred gelding who has just won his 22nd race – IN A ROW! For a horse to win 22 times in a lifetime is special enough, but to do it in a row, especially in today’s racing, is nothing short of miraculous. Even the superhorse, Zenyatta, didn’t accomplish this feat. Before anyone starts saying, “Yes, but…” let me state – unequivocally – that RR is no Zenyatta. And, when you really consider it, that may make his accomplishment even more astonishing.

Photo by Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club

You see, RR was claimed for $6250 in October of 2010. He has raced at seven different tracks and won at distances from five furlongs to 1 1/8 miles, mostly in starter allowance races for horses that had started for a claiming price of $5,000 or less. In other words, he’s “everyman’s horse.” He’s the kind of horse that the backbone of thoroughbred racing dreams of.

 

Photo by Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club

I can talk about this because, as most of you know, we were in the thoroughbred business for a number of years. We were the small, mom-and-pop breeders who bred to race. We didn’t (and still don’t) have the deep pockets required to breed to the top stallions in the world (although we DID – twice – but it was before anyone else knew the kind of sire Dynaformer would turn out to be). My passion was figuring out which new stallions, who stood for moderate prices, would turn out to be very successful and get some good runners. Stallions I “discovered” including Strawberry Road, Notebook, and Dynaformer. Big “D” was – by a LONG shot – my best sure-thing.

Photo courtesy Charlestown

We were lucky enough to breed horses that, at least, won. None of them were stakes quality, but we did manage to get winners. Funny thing, though, the costs were far more than the winnings. That’s why RR has totally captivated me. Rapid Redux is a horse that runs in allowance company and just refuses to lose. A huge amount of credit should go to his owner and his trainer. His owner (Robert Coles, Jr.) should be congratulated for allowing his trainer to take the lead in which races RR should run in. The trainer (David Welles) has kept the horse happy and healthy and put him into the right races. That, in itself, is quite an accomplishment; but, to put the horse in spots where he can win 22 straight, that’s nothing short of genius.

Zenyatta - from The Blood Horse

The incomparable Zenyatta was blessed with owners and a trainer who realized how wonderful their mare was/is. They allowed and continue to allow amazing access to a horse whose style, beauty, and grit in the top ranks captivated the racing world (and millions who had never before – or since Secretariat – gotten involved with a racehorse). Zenyatta’s first foal is eagerly awaited by the public.

Rachel Alexandra @Churchill Downs

Similarly, the folks involved with the super-filly, Rachel Alexandra, realized the love people had developed for their horse. They, too, have kept the world informed on Rachel’s life. She, also, is expecting her first foal this year.

Photo by Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club

Rapid Redux is a blue-collar horse. He is the miracle that every small-time operation dreams of. I congratulate the Eclipse Award committee for recognizing that this horse has accomplished something astounding and voted to give him a Special Eclipse Award. (For those of you who don’t follow horse racing, the Eclipse Award is given to the very best performances in horse racing each year.) That a horse that runs in the ranks of the vast majority of races in the sport has realized such heights, may be one of the “shots in the arm” that horse racing needs. RR has captured the imaginations of so many – in racing and out. He’s the horse racing version of Rocky Balboa!

Photo from Charlestown

I recently read that RR’s owner was exploring locations for retirement for his grand horse. I think that’s incredibly wise. I know how hard it is to retire a horse when he’s winning. The costs associated with running a horse can quickly eat up any winnings. This should be the exception. Rapid Redux has accomplished something that, I firmly believe, will never again be approached. In addition, he will be getting the Special Eclipse Award. He’s earned his retirement.

Photo from Mountaineer Race Track

For that retirement, I’d, personally, like to see RR go to Old Friends in Georgetown, Kentucky! Old Friends is the home of some of racing’s most spectacular former stars. Among their ranks are horses that were superior runners and stallions whose age or health has dictated that they should no longer go to the breeding shed. They also have many excellent geldings and older or infertile mares who have “earned” a quiet life where they are loved – not only by the staff, but by the large numbers of the public who visit every year. It has been said that Rapid Redux is a people-horse. If that’s so, it would be in everyone’s best interest for him to be retired to a facility where his fans are able to come to visit him. I can think of no place better for a horse of his stature than Old Friends. Michael Blowen and the whole staff take remarkable care of their horses. They get the love and respect they are due. Rapid Redux would flourish under their care.

Photo by JJ Zamaiko

No matter what is next for Rapid Redux, his accomplishment and the excitement he’s engendered have been a very bright spot for horse racing and its fans. I eagerly await news of what’s next for him. My wish is that he will be retired to some place where we fans can come visit him and thank him, in person, for bringing so much joy.

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