Barn at Meadowbrook after recent fire.

Barn at Meadowbrook after recent fire.

Louise Reinagel

Meadowbrook Contemplates Next Step After Fire

by Ryan Conley

The ownership of Meadowbrook of Ocala Jockey Club contemplated the end of its commercial stallion operation May 8 while state fire officials completed their on-site investigation of the May 6 blaze that destroyed the farm's stallion barn and killed five resident sires.

No cause of the fire was released, but members of Florida's State Fire Marshall investigating team narrowed the starting point of the fire to the stallion prep room. A spokeswoman for the fire marshall's office said electrical light components in the room were being sent out for testing, though the possibility of arson hasn't been dismissed.

"We haven't ruled that out, absolutely not," said Jennifer Langston of the State Fire Marshall office. "But for now, (the investigation) isn't heading in that direction. We have to eliminate all accidental causes first."

David LaCroix, vice president and general manager of Meadowbrook, said his family will take some time in assessing the farm's future as a commercial breeder. Focus of the discussion will center on whether to rebuild the destroyed stallion barn, which cost $1 million in 1990, or simply continue on as a private breeding site.

"The stallion barn meant a lot to her," David LaCroix saod of his mother, Meadowbrook owner Barbara LaCroix. "To build anything else than was up there would be unacceptable. We either build something more grand, or equal--or nothing at all."

A makeshift breeding arrangement has been established in a yearling barn, and among the surviving stallions, Impeachment and Lexicon were servicing booked mares the day after the fire. The stallions killed were Darn That Alarm, Traitor, Star of Valor, Reality Road, and Faygo.

Meadowbrook owned half-interest or partial interest in all of the deceased sires, except for Faygo, a son of Mr. Prospector who was owned by Bob Caporella. The farm owns a half interest in Lexicon and has shares in Impeachment. LaCroix said those sires could be moved to other farms following the current breeding season.

David LaCroix, who trains for the farm at Hollywood Park, said he has five Star of Valor and four Reality Road 2-year-old homebreds among his 25 horses stabled there.