San Luis Rey Downs Destroyed in California Fires

December 7, 2017


A fire erupted in northeast San Diego County Thursday afternoon and quickly engulfed approximately eight barns at the San Luis Rey (SLR) training center in Bonsall where nearly 500 racehorses were stabled. An unknown number of horses were evacuated before fire authorities declared conditions unsafe for vehicles to enter the area to pick up the remaining horses. Individuals at SLR risked their lives in efforts to free the horses from their stalls and herd them into the safer infield area and training track. However, it is believed that approximately 25 horses perished in the fire.

When safe for the horse vans to again enter the facility, most of the remaining horses were taken 35 miles south to Del Mar Racetrack where personnel and volunteers are adequately caring for them. As of 7:30 p.m. some 30 horses at SLR were still in the process of being evacuated and an unknown number of horses housed in pastures surrounding the property were unaccounted for as darkness prevented a thorough search of those areas.

CHRB personnel will be on the scene early Friday to work with the professionals and volunteers at SLR.

Los Alamitos Race Course announced that it is canceling its Friday afternoon racing program out of respect for the horses and people involved.

A Go Fund Me page is set that is administered by the Thoroughbred Charities of America

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 19-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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