Several Horses Killed, Hundreds Let Loose Amid Fast-Moving Lilac Fire

Horses across California have been affected by the fires

Hundreds of elite thoroughbred race horses sprinted away from flames Thursday as one of California's major wildfires tore through a training centre in San Diego County.

As the fire approached, scores of horses were let out of their stalls to run loose on the property, primarily on the infield of the training track, to get them out of the barns. Barns have burned down.

"Emergency evacuation happened nearly immediately and at this time, we are doing all we can but it's extremely hard", the post stated.

Evacuation efforts for horses housed at San Luis Rey began in the afternoon and as many as 50 had been transported 35 miles south to Del Mar racetrack.

Dunham told The Blood-Horse some horses were discovered dead on the track during efforts to round up the loose horses.

"I heard them screaming, so I was able to get the webbing off of some, but the fire was so bad, I couldn't get to them all", Sise said.

"It's taken 75 percent of San Luis Rey Downs", Nakatani said. But there was a time there in the middle of the action where it seemed like numerous horses would never stop moving long enough to be coaxed in the right direction.

According to a 2013 story in the Daily Racing Form, San Luis Rey Downs was built in the late 1960s to be a parimutuel racing facility by C. Arnholt Smith and John Alessio, who meant to "wrest the choice summer racing dates away from the track at the Del Mar Fairgrounds". "She burned to death that quick".

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"I never thought in my life that I'd see something like that".

Horse trainer Scott Hansen said he knows some of the 30 horses he had at the facility were killed.

"We don't know. Nobody knows where a lot of them ended up", Dunham said. There were 20 vans in there with us and we were just grabbing horses and putting them in.

Elite racehorses stabled at San Luis Rey Downs were cut loose as a California wildfire ripped through the facility on Thursday.

Del Mar chief operating officer Josh Rubenstein said the racetrack is open to any evacuated horses from San Luis Rey and will have no problems handling the full capacity of the training center, which has between 400-500 horses stabled there.

He said flames moved faster than the horses could be evacuated.

An area immediately north of the training center was ordered evacuated before 2 p.m. "We're open to anything with four legs".

Now and then, small herds of horses would gallop from the smoke-shrouded barn bloc, sometimes bolting up to the main track and comparative safety, sometimes opting to keep circling their fiery homes, a maelstrom of confused and panicked horseflesh with no clear compass. Feed has been provided by West Coast Feed, while volunteers and staff are working to get stalls ready and bedded for the incoming animals.

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