San Luis Rey Downs smolders in the aftermath of a devastating fire

San Luis Rey Downs smolders in the aftermath of a devastating fire

Jeremy Balan

Equine Death Toll From San Luis Rey Fire at 46

There are a small number of horses unaccounted for, according to the CHRB.

The equine death toll from the devastating brushfire that ripped through San Luis Rey Downs Training Center Dec. 7 is at 46 as of the morning of Dec. 9, according to officials at the California Horse Racing Board.

CHRB spokesman Mike Marten said Saturday morning that state officials "are confident" in the figure, but made sure to note that a small number of horses broke through a "knockdown fence" at the facility during the fire and are still unaccounted for.

Those horses are believed to be still loose in the hills surrounding San Luis Rey in Bonsall, Calif., but Marten could not confirm the number of horses that are unaccounted for.

As of 4 p.m. PT there are about 260 Thoroughbred race horses from San Luis Rey (which had about 450 horses at the time of the fire) on the grounds at Del Mar, according to Del Mar racing secretary David Jerkens. Another 60 horses or so are still at Trifecta Equine Athletic Center, a equine rehabilitation center across the street from San Luis Rey, according to Trifecta barn manager Annabelle Weller-Poley.

In the immediate aftermath of the fire, about 100 evacuated horses were moved to Trifecta, but horsemen have been picking horses up consistently over the past two days. Del Mar had a high of about 350-370 horses late Dec. 8, but many have been moved to other facilities, like Santa Anita Park, Los Alamitos Race Course, and private farms in the region since.

Jerkens said about seven to 10 horses went out to jog on Del Mar's main track Saturday, and the track will be open for horses to train again Dec. 10, but training will be limited to jogging.

"We're just trying to get them some semblance of normalcy," Jerkens said.

Jerkens also said that there have been no equine fatalities at Del Mar since it opened for evacuated horses Dec. 7.

"It's really a credit to the vets, who have volunteered their time and been here from day one," Jerkens said.