46 Horses Confirmed Dead


Forty-six horses are confirmed dead and others are missing as the Lilac Fire raged through the San Luis Rey Downs Training Center. The fire destroyed over 50 percent of the barns. Two hundred sixty horses were taken to the Del Mar Race Track. Some horses, however, remain unaccounted for after they broke through a fence during the fire. The San Luis Rey facility had approximately 450 horses at the time of the fire on December 7, 2017. Another 60 horses are receiving treatment for burns and other injuries at the Trifecta Equine Athletic Center. Other horses were taken to Santa Anita Park and Los Alamitos Race Course while some were taken to private farms.

One trainer was burned over a large share of her body, and she was put in a medically-induced coma after trying gallantly to free horses in the fire's path. She has recently been brought out of the coma and placed on a respirator. Doctors are hopeful that she will make a recovery from the burns over 50 percent of her body.

In addition to the 260 horses from San Luis Rey Training Center, about 340 other horses are being housed at the Del Mar Race Track. Track officials say that they hope to let some horses get exercise on December 10, 2017, and that they do not expect the additional horses to put a damper on their racing season. Veterinarians urge that all horses affected by the wildfires be monitored closely for signs of smoke inhalation.

A meeting at the Del Mar Race Track pointed out the need for medical care not only for the horses, but for the grooms, trainers and others employed by the track. These people are not covered by workman's compensation under California state law. The leaders also indicated that many people would not seek treatment away from the track because they felt bad leaving the horses that have been traumatized behind.