“I don't ask anyone for anything, but my mom told me sometimes it's ok.”
No one could fault Clovis Crane for going back on his self-imposed policy when he posted the simple statement on Facebook just after midnight on Sunday along with a GoFundMe page. The Lebanon, Penn., horseman was in the midst of the kind of devastating weekend feared by anyone that owns or loves a horse.
On March 7, the barn housing Crane's young horses pointed toward this season's 2-year-olds in training sales caught fire, with some in the building just days away from leaving the farm for Florida. There were 22 horses inside, and Crane was able to get seven horses out of the structure, but the overwhelming blaze claimed the rest. On Monday morning, what's left of the barn still remained on the property while assessors determined the cause and the damages.
“It's all a shock right now, so I don't know what we're going to do,” Crane said Monday morning. “We still have 37 stalls, so we're still working. We're still moving forward. The honest-to-goodness truth is today I don't have the appetite to do anything but clean this mess up, take a deep breath, and see where we're at. A lot of it's going to depend on the insurance company and what they do and don't do for us. I just pray that that they're fair and we can get through this.”
The monetary ramifications of the fire are obvious. The cost to repair the property damage will be considerable, and the horses bought as yearlings to pinhook at the juvenile sales were on the cusp of leaving the farm and returning on their investment. Insurance will hopefully help cover a lot of the lost income and help rebuild, but the fire also put a roadblock on what was poised to be a season of growth for the Crane Thoroughbreds operation.
“I had a filly that passed away that I paid $125,000 for, and that's the top of the line, that's as much as I've ever paid for one,” Crane said. “I'd gotten seven out and she was the eighth one that I was trying to get out. By that time, the flames were right at her doorway and she just would not get out of her stall. It was dark with black smoke and I couldn't see. Eventually, I had to quit trying to get her out, because I'd choked and the smoke had knocked me down. I crawled out the barn away from her and had to watch the barn burn.”
The Pennsylvania property and its residents will need time to recover, but business goes on in other parts of the country, and Crane won't have much time to let things settle before he once again becomes a part of it.
He had six horses cataloged for the upcoming Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Selected 2-Year-Olds In Training Sale, which were scheduled to ship to Florida on March 20 and sell on April 1. Two of the horses died in the fire, two escaped without incident, and Crane expected the remaining two to recover well enough to make the trip south. The surviving Gulfstream-bound horses have been sent to receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy to help in their recovery.
Crane said he was grateful for any of the horses to have survived, but his biggest hope for the future lies with one pointed toward the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale: a Blame colt set to be offered as Hip 25. He bought the colt for $72,000 at last year's Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
“He may be the best horse I've ever owned is here and he made it through, and he's healthy,” Crane said. “He's really exciting. He might salvage the whole deal.”
Crane had two barns on his property, the barn built in 1994 that burnt down and the centuries-old bank barn that survived, meaning he'll still have somewhere to put the displaced horses. His consignment is also active at the nearby Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds In Training Sale in Timonium, Md., which will be a likely landing point for the remainder of his juvenile stock.
The fire dealt a massive blow to Crane's Thoroughbred interests, but the horseman is nothing if not versatile. He was a top apprentice jockey in New York and the Mid-Atlantic, and a Division I collegiate wrestler, in previous lives. Today, he's also a national-level rodeo cowboy, the coach of his kids' wrestling team, and a trainer of off-track Thoroughbreds, frequently placing highly in the Retired Racehorse Project's Thoroughbred Makeover event in a variety of disciplines.
Crane has established a reputation for good deeds along the way, especially in the rodeo arena, where he's been known to donate his prize winnings to help a struggling cowboy or inspire one by giving them a belt buckle he won at an event.
In one of the hardest times of his professional career, it became clear that the people in the many lives he's lived have taken notice of those good deeds, and it has shown in the support he's received in recent days.
“There were 200 people or more here yesterday just giving their condolences and seeing if they could help,” Crane said. “There are thousands of responses, not just one thousand, on Facebook from people giving their condolences, saying prayers, and saying they'd help with whatever was needed.”
Friends and colleagues from Crane's various backgrounds have stepped forward with fundraising drives to help the horseman recoup and rebuild.
A GoFundMe campaign was created Sunday to benefit Crane's rebuilding efforts, led by Machmer Hall's Carrie Brogden among others. As of late Monday afternoon, the fundraiser had brought in nearly $70,000.
Elsewhere, an online auction has been started on Facebook where items and services can be donated and bid on to help raise money for the cause.
“There's been such an outreach,” he said. “I'm just so thankful that we're all in this together, that we're all horsepeople. There's lots of good people out there, there's not just a few, and you don't hear that enough. It's been very humbling. You try to be a good guy on a day-to-day basis and try to be fair and do everything to help everybody when you can, and I see it coming back tenfold to me. It's very, very humbling how many people are kind and generous, and how many people's lives I've touched, evidently. Now they have a chance to help me, and it's been amazing.”
To donate to the Clovis Crane Barn Fire Rebuild Fund, click here.
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2020 Paulick Report.