Major wildfires happening in California has reached the training center of elite thorough breed horses in San Diego County. Hundreds of horses tried to escape the danger and sprinted away from the flames but not all managed to run for their lives and safety.
Both humans and horses in the training center were evacuated trainers at San Luis Rey Downs place the estimated number of horses killed to at least half a dozen, but possibly more.
Horses in the center are usually well cared for. They are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The horses under normal circumstances are usually carefully walked from place to place by their trainers or guardians, but on the day the wildfire hit the center, the horses were simply set free and encouraged to run away as fast as they could as flames engulfed the center near Bonsall, located just a few miles from where the fire broke out.
Del Mar rece track worker Mac McBride, who was then working with the trainers, said it was “total pandemonium when several hundred horses were cut loose”. He believes, however, that most of the 450 horses stabled there managed to survive. Some of the horses evacuated to the nearby track where many of them also compete.
Too much smoke during the fire made it difficult to see, so while some trainers managed to round up their horses and load them in vans to be evacuated, some of the animals just had to be set free and allowed to escape on their own.
San Luis Rey Downs is the popular home to elite horses that run at nearby Del Mar and other top-flight California tracks like Santa Anita Park. It is also referred to as the “Home of Azeri”’, the now-retired mare who was the 2002 U.S. Horse of the Year who earned $4 million in her career.
One horse trainer Scott Hansen shared that he thinks at east 30 horses he had at the facility may have been killed in the wildfire.