The famous racehorse Noor’s grave was identified using ground penetrating radar at Loma Rica Ranch in Grass Valley, where a business park is planned as part of a big housing project, I have learned.
The search for Noor’s remains occurred during a recent tour of the project with the Grass Valley Planning Commission. Local Tom Nichalson used the GPR to find Noor, according to Charlotte Farmer, who has championed the effort to honor the famous thoroughbred racehorse.
“Thanks to Jon Peek (the vet who put Noor down) and current thoroughbred trainer John Shirreffs (once a regular at Loma Rica), Tom found him almost right where Dr. Peek said he was,” Charlotte told me.
“There are no other horses in the vicinity of Noor. He is about six feet down and the width of the grave is between three and four feet. The length goes east/west. This was in keeping with what Shirreffs stated, that Henry Freitas always faced them toward the barn. The site has been marked off.”
In its heyday in the ’60s-’70s, thoroughbred racehorses trained routinely on the 1/2-mile oval. Freitas had been a manager of the ranch, built by Errol MacBoyle, of Idaho-Maryland Mine fame. Shirreffs trained horses at Loma Rica and now trains Zenyatta, now reigning supreme in the horse racing world.
Noor, who set three world records, was put down in November 1974, at the age of 29. The horse was owned by Charles Howard, the same man who owned Seabiscuit. Noor beat Citation and has been inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York.
As I have been reporting, thoroughbred aficionados and Noor fans such as Farmer are worried that the horse’s grave may wind up as a business park. They want to honor the horse with a statue.
At the Planning Commission meeting earlier this month, Farmer spoke: “I got up and informed the commission that Noor’s grave had been located and gave them some background information on who he was and his place in racing history.”
The local media, including The Union, has not written about the effort. Farmer and some other Noor fans have complained their letters are not being published in the newspaper.
I wrote earlier about the revised plan for Loma Rica, which originally called for a horse park, not a business park. The background is here.