San Luis Rey Downs Fire: What You Can Do To Help

by | 12.08.2017 | 12:07pm
Horses running at the San Luis Rey training center Thursday afternoon

The Stronach Group (TSG), in conjunction with Santa Anita Park and The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, has established a GoFundMe account page to help pay for hospital and rehabilitative costs incurred by those injured in yesterday's devastating Lilac Fire, which engulfed San Luis Rey Downs Training Center in northern San Diego County. Additionally, Santa Anita is now in the process of collecting clothing items for the dozens of stable workers who were forced to flee yesterday's flames.

The fire, fueled by fierce Santa Ana winds, was first reported at approximately 11:30 a.m. PT near Interstate 15 and state Route 76, to the east of San Luis Rey Downs. The resulting conflagration at the training center, which housed nearly 500 Thoroughbreds, has resulted in numerous injuries, equine and human, as well as an undetermined number of equine deaths.

Due to the heroic efforts of workers and first responders, all remaining horses have now been evacuated from San Luis Rey Downs, with the majority now stabled at Del Mar, which is 35 miles to the south.

Among the trainers who now have horses at Del Mar are Doug O'Neill, Peter Miller, Phil D'Amato, Mark Glatt and Richard Baltas, per Several horses appeared to have burn marks on their bodies. Track officials have indicated that they may open the Del Mar racetrack for temporary training purposes.

Trainer Martine Bellocq has been hospitalized at UCSD Medical Center Hillcrest and is listed in critical condition with second- and third-degree burns on 50 percent of her body, according to her brother-in-law Remi Bellocq, a longtime racing industry executive. Martine and her husband, Pierre, lost three horses from their small stable in the fire and Martine was injured trying to save them, according to Bellocq. She will remain in a medically induced coma in the San Diego hospital's burn unit but Bellocq said vital signs were positive and that she was conscious upon arrival. reports that trainer Joe Herrick has also been hospitalized with third-degree burns on his arm and shoulder.

Clothing items, as well as bedding and blankets for displaced workers, can be left at Santa Anita's Association Gate, accessible via Gate 8 off of Baldwin Ave.

For those wishing to donate to TSG's GoFundMe account to benefit those impacted by yesterday's fire at San Luis Rey Downs Training Center, please visit and click on the pop-up or visit the donation site at

The California Thoroughbred Horsemen's Foundation is also coordinating relief efforts to assist anyone affected by the fire. Donations can be made at the CTHF website by clicking here.

Anyone interested in ordering items through Amazon to aid the displaced horses and people may refer to this Amazon Wish List, which has been set up by Kentucky-based college student Julie Witt together with California native Bob Feld. Items in the list will be deliverable to Feld's address in California, and he has coordinated with Witt to bring those supplies to Del Mar.

  • Fairy Gold

    No words. Just tears. God Bless them all. He works through people.

  • whirlaway

    All I want for this Holiday season is for all these people to improve and get over the terrible injuries they are facing. Let all be able to get through this tragedy with donations to help and the kindness of volunteers and others. I am sure most of us that post are heartbroken over these circumstances. The loss of all horses due to these fires is painful and all I can say which seems so little is how sorry I am for each and every owner, trainer, grooms and others that care for these horses both pleasure horses lost in Sylmar and racehorses for they are all sweet creatures that did not deserve this.

  • whirlaway

    All I want for this Holiday season is for all these people to improve and get over the terrible injuries they are facing. Let all be able to get through this tragedy with donations to help and the kindness of volunteers and others. I am sure most of us that post are heartbroken over these circumstances. The loss of all horses due to these fires is painful and all I can say which seems so little is how sorry I am for each and every owner, trainer, grooms and others that care for these horses both pleasure horses lost in Sylmar and racehorse for they are all sweet creatures that did not deserve this.

  • David Juffet

    Far away where the soft winds blow, far away from it all, there’s a place you go where teardrops fall. Thank you Ray.

  • Monrovia Damon

    Just got back from Del Mar — was there for about 5 hrs this morning. Seeing the hundreds of men, women, and children drop everything and lend a hand was a welcome ray of sunshine. Supplies were flooding in continuously and spirits were overall very upbeat.

    The horse community is something special, it’s egalitarian at its root. I was rubbing elbows with some big name industry people while unloading cars, filling up feed tubs, mucking stalls, and walking the ring. It was an amazing sight to see and if we can transmit one ounce of this devotion to our sport and each other, damn, the sky is the limit.

    • If there is a supply store you go by i would spring a few hundred for halters leads and other imediately needed items. Just need to figure out how to get my phone number to you (ray has that info) the store can put it on my card .. if they will (they call me)
      Being there you probably have a better idea of what is needed write now

      • Tromper

        Not to be too forward, but…..Love you, Mr. Moo!!.

        • (:-) now if we can just make it happen, CC company has been aprized of a possible up coming “unusual charge” so its all good to go

      • Monrovia Damon

        You are awesome, Mr. Moo! I just got back to Monrovia but I’ll try to get a contact # to put you in touch. I know Del Mar, some So Cal trainers, and farms have posted info on how to buy supplies/donate directly so I’ll see if I can pull some up.

        • Got it done … (see below near the bottom)
          Others may want to do it how i did

      • Mr Moo, you’re so generous and kindhearted! What a beautiful gesture on your part. I thank you for all you’re doing to help!!

      • Hey Mr. Moo here’s a number you may wanna call to see what they need in more detail. Call 858.755.1161 for more information.

        • Yea i saw that one, ordering and having it shipped would be a few days getting there .. my thought was for someone get some of what they need NOW and go get it
          the needs change from day to day. I could order halters leads buckets blankets and all that but its 4 days to get it there under normal conditons. And by that time they could be up to there eyeballs in buckets

          • oh I see your point yes! Good thinkin’ in there! You really are so generous to make such an offer to help! I wish I could help in such a way! But all I can do is to pray for them all. And I am doing that!!

  • Pierre, so sorry to learn about Martine, and the horses you two lost in the fire. Wishing Martine a very speedy recovery. Know how much you need her now. Have many friends at SLRD and wishing them all well in these difficult times. Please take care! Thanks to all who are donating funds, and supplies to these fire victims!!

  • Richard C

    If every railbird donated one upcoming wager…..the total amount raised will be tremendous.

  • GloriaU

    The only thing I could do to feel like I’m helping was to donate to the official Go Fund Me page. My local news just showed Del Mar and the goings-on there. They showed a chestnut filly/mare in a stall that was supposed to race today (per their reporting), but did not give the name (and Los Al. cancelled thoroughbred racing today). They reported she ran into the fire and was rescued, but has a few burns on her legs. It warms my heart to see everyone at Del Mar (and elsewhere) helping out. Thank you to all.

    • Judy Gaddis

      Not sure where you live but donating to the Go Fund Me is all I can do as well (I live in South Carolina). This is one of the most devastating things I can ever remember happening that what breaks my heart further is that it’s not OVER yet

      I grieve for the lives lost (both equine and human) and hope that between all of us we can help (for instance) all of those who work on the backside that left LITERALLY with nothing but the clothes they were wearing.

      I am sure seeing She Looks Proud on the news gave you some comfort. I hope over the weekend to see and hear the same type of stories on TVG. Here, the Blood Horse and TVG are my only sources of info – and I live in Aiken which is big Thoroughbred racing country! We just don’t have any local television stations; all of ours come out of Georgia.

      And God bless all of the brave, tireless men and women of the various emergency and fire departments for their continued efforts to fight this beast.

      • GloriaU

        Hi Judy. I am very close to Santa Anita. I see on social media that they made it to Del Mar with donations. All day, I’ve been following posts on Twitter and keeping an eye on the official Go Fund Me link, and wow, they are really raking in the money. They keep upping their goal. I hope they can get that money quickly to where it’s needed. I’ve seen several posts by TVG on Twitter today of interviews, one with Billy Koch choking back tears talking about his loss and how the people helping out bring a smile. There are several others I saw today from TVG on Twitter. Check out TVG on Twitter for those interviews. There are tons of posts from others regarding the fire, horses, people, etc. Articles being written about people’s own experiences during the fire. I get more info on social media than anything on television. ;)

        When I first saw She Looks Proud on the news, they didn’t give her name, so I looked up the journalist who did the report on Twitter and found her. There were a couple of other posts showing the horse and giving her name. I will keep an eye on her in my virtual stable now that I’ve learned of her.

        Yeah, I feel for the grooms, hot walkers, and all the rest who have nothing now. But, I think the heroes of the Lilac Fire are taking care of that and it makes me feel better.

      • Racing fans can do more than donate (although donations are always a good thing). Being familiar with the horse’s names and trainers allows them to help find missing horses and get them back to their barns. If I add the link it will go into moderation, so just search for Southern California Equine Emergency Evac–Lost & Found Horses and other Lost and Found groups on Facebook who are combing social media and news reports to update lists and get horses home.

  • Deana Montoya

    I live in Los Angeles and am able to drive down there and assist in any way I can. Is there any more need for that?? I am heartbroken and here to help if need be.

      Del Mar Fairgrounds Volunteer & Donation line 858-509-5245
      DMFG volunteer #1-858-755-1161 leave information / VM
      They also post updates regarding what donations they need and volunteer schedules on the Del Mar Fairgrounds Facebook page.

      Race fans may also want to know that due to fires burning across southern California, there are similar evacuations and efforts outside of what happened at San Luis Rey Downs. Some reading this may be able to assist locally as well. Search for the Southern California Equine Emergency Evac Facebook groups for more information.

  • Delrene

    There is Mary’s Tack and Feed on Villa de La Valle in Del Mar/ San Diego.

  • This is heartbreaking.
    But the goodness of horse people shining through is a bright spot. Sending a few dollars from my home in Nicaragua.

  • Michael A Flynn

    I live in Palm Desert, CA. Just located a feed store out here collecting donations. Son and I each lost 50 lbs. this year. Two closets of clothing on the way. It feels so good to help those that help bring enjoyment to us all!

    • If you find a place that has halters and leads (medium and large) good ones let me know (give me there number) ill buy a few if you will pick them up and delever them

      • Michael A Flynn

        the number is 760-342-6602. I am not able to deliver however. I spoke with Maddie and she stated that delivery could be arranged through them.

        • Thanks,
          Done deal halters/leads and a pallet of shavings

          • Michael A Flynn

            WOOHOO! Thank you sir.

  • Audrey Gulla

    Heartfelt condolences to all.

  • airedale2008

    I’m in Virginia, far away from San Luis Rey Downs and unable to help in person. I donated to the Go Fund Me account and the CTHF website, specifying that funds should go to Martine’s recovery and to replace belongings of backstretch workers who lost everything in this disaster.

    High praise to everyone who did all they could to save the equine athletes, and to the many volunteers at Del Mar and surrounding farms.

  • DawnStorm

    Sending vibes and loud prayers for a good soaking rain your way!

  • Dave Hunter

    You can’t see me but I just read this whole thread and this old Navy grump is crying. BZ to all.

  • Delrene

    I ordered some Timothy alfalfa at Carter’s Feed Store in Encinitas. They also have one out in East County. But they also will take the bales I purchased along with others down to Del Mar. That helped me a lot as I don’t have a vehicle to haul much. Went down there with smaller items, clothing, bottled water, pet supplies for small animals. Their needs will be ongoing well past the fire being doused and done. Everyone is very helpful and appreciative. I saw cars from many states in the parking lot. I got a kick out of seeing a very snazzy yellow Corvette with “Nyquist” as its license plate and a Maserati ( sp?) not sure….. with “Ky Bred” as it’s personalized plate as we were all making a right hand turn into the stable parking area. Del Mar racetrack is a place of help and healing.

  • pepper6650

    What sort of items for the stable workers? What sizes? Any children’s items? Do we mail them to Del Mar?

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