California Horse Racing Board officials indicated Dec. 11 that the horses stabled at San Luis Rey Training Center at the time of the Dec. 7 fire that tore through the facility have been accounted for.
That statement came from CHRB spokesman Mike Marten, and was clarified by CHRB equine medical director Rick Arthur.
A small number of horses were still considered missing early Monday, but Arthur said the number of unidentified horses dead at the Bonsall, Calif., facility 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 to a level of certainty.
"Some are hopeful their horses are still running around in the hills," Arthur said. "We don't think that's likely."
Arthur and Marten also reported the death of a 47th horse who was stabled at San Luis Rey during the fire who died from complications related to colic at a local clinic. They hesitated to add the horse to the official death toll from the fire, because it is unclear if the colic was brought on by the blaze.
"Whether it's attributable to the fire or not, we're not going to argue with anyone who thinks it is," said Arthur, who also mentioned there is still one horse in "critical condition" from the fire.
As of Monday night the population of evacuated Thoroughbreds from San Luis Rey at Del Mar is steady at about 260, according to the Del Mar racing secretary David Jerkens. Jerkens also said there are about 200 backstretch workers residing at the seaside racetrack.
The number of non-Thoroughbred horses stabled at Del Mar who were fleeing fires in the San Diego area decreased significantly, from about 500 in the morning Monday to about 100 in the evening, as people and horses move back into evacuated houses, farms, and ranches in the area.