Horses > Noor
Bred by the Aga Khan in Ireland in 1945, Noor, whose name means “light” in Arabic, was by Nasrullah, who would later be exported to the United States and become a five-time Leading Sire.
Noor was a good if not outstanding colt as a 3-year-old, finishing third in both the Epsom Derby and the Eclipse Stakes, both now group 1 races. He raced once at four in Europe before his sale to Seabiscuit’s owner Charles Howard.
Noor’s transformation as a 5-year-old on dirt in the stable of Burley Parke was remarkable. In 12 starts he went 7-4-1, set three world records, and dominated the Californian handicaps, winning the Santa Anita Handicap, San Juan Capistrano Handicap, American Handicap, Golden Gate Handicap, and the Hollywood Gold Cup.
It wasn’t just the wins that captivated American audiences, it was who Noor was defeating. Noor defeated Citation in four of five encounters during 1950 (though he only carried more weight than Citation once), and also outlasted Assault on two occasions, making him the first horse ever to defeat two U.S. Triple Crown winners. A trip east wasn’t so successful – he was beaten four lengths by Hill Prince in the Jockey Club Gold Cup – but on his return to California he beat Hill Prince and 1949 winner Ponder in the Hollywood Gold Cup.
Not surprisingly, Noor was named Champion Older Horse, but he lost Horse of the Year to Hill Prince. He retired at the end of 1950 with 12 wins from 31 starts and earnings of $356,940. Noor died at the age of 29 in 1974, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002. He was originally buried in California but his remains were moved to Old Friends Farm in Kentucky when his original burial site was developed.