Elite racehorses stabled at San Luis Rey Downs were cut loose like a California wildfire ripped through the facility on Thursday.
Hundreds of elite racing horses stabled at San Luis Rey Downs in San Diego County were released Thursday in the hope that they would escape the flames as one of the large forest fires of California consumes the training facility.
Trainers estimate at least a dozen of the thoroughbreds worth hundreds of thousands of dollars have died.
The training facility is known for the stabling of the high-caliber horses that participate in Del Mar, Santa Anita and other top-flight California tracks. A sign outside the complex reads “Home of the Azeri’, a reference to the former racing mare who was voted 2002 Horse of the Year and earned more than $4 million in her career.
Mac McBride, who was working with the centre of the trainers, said it was “total pandemonium when a few hundred horses were cut loose,” but he believes the majority of the horses survived.
Some of the 450 horses stabled at the training facility located in the vicinity of Bonsall, just a few kilometers from where the fire broke out, were moved to a nearby trail.
“There was so much smoke it was difficult to see,” said the horse trainer Than Durham, who got his 20 horses have been rounded up and had them in vans to be evacuated. “A number of the horses were turned loose so they can be safe. They were scattered around.”
“There was so much smoke it was difficult to see. Some of the horses were turned loose so they can be safe. They were scattered around.”
– Then Durham, horse trainer San Luis Rey Downs
Several trainers said that some of their horses were killed in the factory.
“It was dark, everything was hot and they would not come. I opened the pen and tried to get behind her and get her out, and she would not get out,” horse trainer Cliff Sise told San Diego’s KFMB-TV. “It burned fast.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Benjamin Brown is a reporter from Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bdbrown473.