According to chief Lloyde Campbell of the Bourbon County Fire and Rescue, the dispatch center received a call at about 4 a.m. from motorists who saw the blaze from the highway.
"We have ruled (the fire's cause) to be accidental electrical," Campbell said following an investigation of the incident.
The two Thoroughbreds--a yearling Mr. Greeleycolt out of the Fit to Fight mare One Fit Lady, and Gum Buster, a 2-year-old Meadow Monsterfilly out of the Screen King mare Kirov--were expected to be joined in the barn by several other Thoroughbreds that were shipping in the next two weeks. Both of the perished horses were uninsured.
New Jersey resident Alan Goldberg of Colts Neck Stable and Derek Buntain, who resides in Canada, owned the Mr. Greeley colt and Meadow Monster filly, respectively. Both have been notified of the fatal fire.
Lyster said by the time a neighbor called to alert him of the blaze, the barn was already engulfed in flames and fire engines were arriving at the scene.
"There were some issues there in terms of extinguishing the blaze," said Campbell of the frigid eight degree temperatures at the scene. "Dealing with water at those temperatures, you're going to have some friction and difficulty."
Campbell said the fire was finally squelched at about 6 a.m.
Lyster had at least two other barns full of horses. While about 40% of the horses at Tarleton Farm are boarders, Lyster owns the other 60% in partnership with clients.
"It was a bad accident," said Lyster. "Everybody lost. Those were the only two horses in that particular barn, but in another week or two, that barn would have been full. I had another barn that was full of horses, and though there's no bright side (to this situation), it could have been much worse."
A veteran of the horse industry, Lyster said he has been involved with Thoroughbreds for more than 30 years. He plans to rebuild the barn and may board some of his horses with friends during the renovation.
The former trainer typically keeps around 26 to 28 mares and young horses at his farm. Among the best horses he has bred alone or in partnership are grade III winner Lilah (by Defrere) and grade II stakes-placed runner Cortnall (by Cherokee Run).
Lyster's brother Wayne, who owns Ashview Farm near Versailles, Ky., bred the prominent sire and 2-year-old champion, Johannesburg.