Fund Set Up For Horses After Lilac Wildfire
Friday, December 8, 2017
Photo by Steve Walsh
The owner of Santa Anita Park set up a fund to help pay for hospital and rehabilitative costs stemming from the Lilac Fire in northern San Diego County, which killed about 25 horses and left owners and trainers searching for missing horses a day after the blaze swept through the San Luis Rey Downs Training Center.
More than $170,000 had been raised within four hours of the fund — Thoroughbred Care — being set up on GoFundMe by The Stronach Group in conjunction with Santa Anita Park and the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.
The money will be used for feed, bedding, blankets, medical bills, housing and other essential amenities needed for the horses, according to Santa Anita Park.
The Arcadia racetrack has also launched a drive for clothing and supplies for dozens of stable workers who were forced to flee from the fire. Donations can be dropped off at the stable gate, with daily trips expected to be made to Del Mar to drop off supplies, according to a tweet from Santa Anita.
Many of the horses evacuated from San Luis Rey were taken 35 miles to the Del Mar racetrack, where they were being housed and cared for by racetrack personnel and a team of volunteers.
Supplies including blankets, lead ropes and halters, feed, shavings, hooks and clips and muck buckets were needed for the horses, and clothing, gloves, toiletries, air mattresses and blankets and bedding were needed for workers, according to an online posting from the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.
The California Horse Racing Board said individuals at San Luis Rey risked their lives by trying to free the horses from their stalls and herd them into the safer infield area and training track.
One worker who documented his efforts on Facebook of trying to release horses at the center as the fire neared was being lauded on social media as a hero.
Meanwhile, workers and volunteers at Del Mar and nearby ranches that had taken in horses from San Luis Rey were still working to identify some of the equines as others continued to search for missing horses.
LRF Racing Club, which lost its 2-year-old colt Oddsmaker in the fire, announced on Twitter that one of its horses, Riri, was still "unaccounted for," and Harris D. Auerbach tweeted that there is "still no word" on the whereabouts of the 4-year-old colt Puig after the blaze.
Eclipse Thoroughbred — whose missing filly Onassis turned up at Del Mar on Thursday night — posted a photo online of two shopping carts full of supplies for workers who had been evacuated from San Luis Rey.
Eclipse's president, Aron Wellman, posted his own first-hand account online of finding the filly after he headed to Del Mar to help the equine evacuees and "resigned myself to refraining from the selfish mission of finding the one horse Eclipse had stabled at San Luis Rey to simply being a small part of contributing to the greater good."
"... I was overcome with emotion and wrapped my arms around her sweaty, hot, veiny and pulsating neck, and draped my body onto her shoulder," Wellman wrote in the posting on Eclipse's website. "In an almost surreal turn of events, Onassis was there for me. She was reassuring me. She was comforting me. A 2-year-old filly who had been through hell and back and seen and lived pure horror was consoling me."
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