Welcome to the web site of Milt Toby
Author of "Noor: A Champion Thoroughbred's Unlikely Journey from California to Kentucky," from The History Press, and "Dancer's Image: The Forgotten Story of the 1968 Kentucky Derby," winner of the Dr. Tony Ryan and American Horse Publications Book Awards.
Noor: A Champion Thoroughbred's Unlikely Journey from California to Kentucky
Available now from The History Press
- Which Thoroughbred is the best race horse hardly anyone remembers?
- Which horse beat Triple Crown winner Citation in four consecutive races, and set three world records in the process?
- Who was the first horse defeat two Triple Crown winners?
- Which horse won the richest race in the world in 1950?
- Which champion handicapper arguably should have been voted Horse of the Year?
- After being lost and forgotten for years, which horse's remains were found and shipped across the United States for reburial at Old Friends in Kentucky?
While Seabiscuit is perhaps the best-known Thoroughbred in history, Charles S. Howard owned another remarkable race horse that should never be forgotten. Howard's Irish-bred Noor dominated the 1950 racing season, setting three world records in victories over Citation and winning the Hollywood Gold Cup by defeating a Triple Crown winner, the Horse of the Year, and the previous year's Kentucky Derby winner. Sadly, that fame faded as he failed to sire champions, and Noor was buried in an unmarked grave in the infield of a training track in Northern California.
In Noor: A Champion Thoroughbred's Unlikely Journey from California to Kentucky, veteran turf writer Milt Toby recounts Noor's colorful career and the inspiring story of racing enthusiast Charlotte Farmer's personal mission to exhume the horse's remains for reburial in Central Kentucky.
Milt's previous book, Dancer's Image: The Forgotten Story of the 1968 Kentucky Derby, was honored with the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award for the best book about Thoroughbred racing published in 2012 and an American Horse Publications Award for the best equine book of the year.
Introduction: Noor: A Champion Thoroughbred's Unlikely Journey from California to Kentucky
A few minutes after sunrise on a foggy west Texas highway, a Greyhound bus piloted by a substitute driver rushing to make up lost time slammed head-on into an automobile driven by golfer Ben Hogan. In the split second before impact, Hogan flung himself across the passenger seat to protect his wife, Valerie. The instinctive decision saved Hogan's life, but the Cadillac was demolished in the collision and the golfer sustained serious injuries. Complications set in early on, and for a time it was not at all clear whether Hogan ever would play golf again.
The year was 1949 and one of the world's best golfers was out of action for the foreseeable future, maybe forever.
Another sports icon of post-war America, the Thoroughbred race horse Citation, Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year, already was on the sidelines at the time of Hogan's accident. After winning the 1948 Pimlico Special in a walkover when no other trainer could be enticed to run a horse against him, Citation was shipped to California to prepare for an assault the next year on two major records: Stymie's career earnings mark of $918,485 was the first objective; becoming Thoroughbred racing's first millionaire was the second.
Achieving either goal was far from a sure thing, even for a stellar horse like Citation, but neither objective was outside the realm of possibility. California tracks offered more than their share of lucrative opportunities, including the rich Santa Anita Handicap and the Hollywood Gold Cup. For a stable with Calumet's history of winning just about everything in sight, along with the general prejudice held against West Coast horses by the Eastern elite, the rich California purses must have looked like low-hanging fruit, ready to be picked.