California racing officials say that the horses stabled at the San Luis Rey Training Center during the Lilac Fire last week have been accounted for, but searchers are still combing the hills for missing racehorses.
California Horse Racing Board equine medical director Rick Arthur said the number of unidentified horses dead at the facility in Bonsall outnumber those considered missing. He said 39-40 of the 46 dead have been identified, but some have been “burned beyond recognition,” and may never be identified.
“Some are hopeful their horses are still running around in the hills,” Arthur said. “We don’t think that’s likely.”
Searchers are still out looking for signs of missing horses, with crews on foot and horseback joined helicopters and drones.
A 47th horse who was stabled at San Luis Rey died of complications related to colic. California Horse Racing Board officials had not added the horse to the official death toll as they were unsure if the colic was a result of the fires. Another horse is in a critical condition following the fire, Arthur said.
About 260 horses from the San Luis Rey facility were still residing at Del Mar, with about 200 workers also evacuated there.
Some horses were back in work while others were still recovering from their ordeal. Some trainers lost most or all of their tack in the fire.
Donations of gear have come from as far afield as Florida, with a semi truck bringing in a load a riding gear specifically for riders who lost their helmet, vests, boots, gloves vest, and other racing equipment.
The National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association said the most critical need is money, rather than donations of tack, feed, and bedding. “Donated money can be used to buy those needed supplies more efficiently and faster than trying to ship supplies to those affected.”
It asked those who wanted to help to consider making a donation to a GoFundMe account, which had already raised more than $620,000.
The fund would be distributed entirely to help horsemen, backstretch workers, and horses, a spokesman said.