The Blood of Five Standardbreds Killed in Barn Fire on Horseracing’s Hands

The Woodbine (Canada) Communications Office has announced the death of five Standardbred racehorses in a fire at the First Line Training Centre Friday. The victims: Pearl Blue Chip, Mademoiselle Tammy, Rap Royalty, Miss Wheely, and Irma. The press release included this (typical) bit of vileness: “Woodbine offers our sincerest condolences to all the connections of the horses lost and everyone impacted by this tragic event.” Yes, hearts out to the anguished humans.

Look, I’ll say the same thing I say every time one of these fires happens: Horseracing, the industry, is absolutely and unequivocally responsible for these deaths. If not for Racing, those horses would not have been in that place, at that time. If not for Racing, those horses would not have been locked up with, unlike their wild brethren faced with a prairie fire, zero chance for escape. Imagine the scene inside that barn – the utter helplessness, the sheer terror, the unspeakable suffering. And now remember who made it all possible. Horseracing. Horseracing.


  1. How can anybody sleep at night who caused this fire to happen and I truly believe that it’s the greed that drives the actions

    • Usually you are right about the devastating affects of horse racing. A barn fire though? Grasping at straws to “Kick ’em while they are down’.

      Who do you blame when people die in house fires? That is just wrong.

      Here in British Columbia many horses and other farm animals were burned due to forest fires. None were used for horse racing. Who will you blame?

      You are a good watch for truly abused horses but don’t over do it. Are you against all people who have animals in barns? I personally keep my precious animals in a barn. Stay focussed.

      Did you attack these people to keep a level field with the Thoroughbreds?

      • Open your eyes. Pull your head out of the sand. Do you think these things don’t happen in Canada. Wake up and realize racing is unethical and there are NO RULES

      • I’ve never understood why people who own horses, especially expensive ones, don’t install sprinklers in their barns! Stable fires occur way too often. Sprinklers must be required and inspected! Maybe we should investigate the insurance angle.

    • Sure and greed causes animals to die in forest fires, too. Who do we blame for all the house fires, or do we care?

  2. What was the cause of the fire before anyone is blamed? All standardbred people that I know love their horses and would be devastated by their loss. Not just for the money, most don’t make enough to live on and they find pleasure homes for them. Google the SPHO

    • Karen – Yes there are a lot of homes for Standardbreds. But the majority of those homes are with the Amish. I would hardly call the life of an Amish buggy horse a life of pleasure.

  3. For the most part, I always agree with you. Not this time. That is too general to suggest that a tragic barn fire is related to standarbred racing. Here in British Columbia this year we had many wild fires that affected farms and pets. Many were burned while trying to escape.
    And what of house fires? Who do we blame for the people and even children who die there?
    Please don’t be random. You have many valid points, but not this time. This is grasping at straws, a seeming desperate attempt to make your point, which is already well validated.

    • If anyone says that we are to blame for wildfires that kill animals, then what about lightning strikes? Are you going to blame GOD? This was a tragic accident most likely. Get facts before you level your blame from the soap box you sit on.

    • Sandra and the other people trying to defend this vile industry.
      I suggest that you approach your local or state/provincial politicians and ask them why they send MILLIONS in precious taxpayers dollars to support this financially unsustainable business?
      Then when your through with that ask the people who supposedly “care” about their racehorses why they would exploit them in the first place?
      Or, why they would lock a living being 23 hours in an enclosed highly flammable area (barely large enough for them to turn around) with NO fire sprinkler systems?
      Please don’t be random.
      Rather, target the industry and people solely responsible for thousands of deaths both on their tracks and on their training centers that house them for the next day of abuse.
      Let me know how it goes.
      Oh and I forgot one more thing: apologists have no problem whatsoever kicking a horse when its down, sending it to its death, and beating, doping, whipping it to make $2 bets.
      Nor do they have a problem dumping their horse at a kill auction after its made more than enough money to pay for itself – more than I can say for the people who maim them, and often don’t even pay for vet care.
      Instead, they dump them.
      I, for one, am fed up with cleaning up the unwanted racehorse mess that this industry creates and continues to create to fill races for their stupid bets.

  4. I agree with Patrick. Why does a large training center, used to warehouse horses, not equipped with an advanced fire suppression system? And how many of them have pastures and large pens in which to evacuate a big group of horses in an emergency? Or even an evacuation plan?
    When I worked at one of our local racetracks, the barns were metal shells with all wood interiors. I noted sprinklers right away. One morning, one of the grooms was warming oats for the horses, in a tack room, and caught something on fire. Within minutes, the barn was filled with a grey haze and acrid smell. No one knew the source at the time. But- here I was, ready to start pulling horses out- but put them where?? And no one else seemed concerned. And sprinklers never alarmed or went off. A few minutes later- the smoke was thick enough it made us cough and smelled stronger. Still, with all the people milling around, no one seemed concerned. Thank goodness by that point the panicked groom got the fire out, but had it gotten worse, we would’ve been screwed, and it would have been too late to get most of those horses out, and the inside of that barn would’ve been kindling.

    • To add to that- at every track I’ve ever been to, I have seen people smoking inside the barns. And no one seems really concerned by that. That’s a huge pet peeve of mine.

    • Peggy, thank you for sharing your experience. What a nightmare to those of us who love our equine family members! We are always thinking of safety first and remain aware to safeguard their precious lives! I NEVER confine my horses in their stalls – they come and go as they please. And the majority of the time – even during our cold and snowy Michigan winters, with their hay inside AND out, they choose to be out.

  5. To Sandra, Karen and anybody who is grasping at straws to defend these deaths.
    There have been many barn fires that have led to many racehorse deaths in Ontario (let alone elsewhere).
    One of the most notable was at Woodbine Racetrack itself:
    and this one:
    Now a rational thinking person who supposedly treats their horses like “royalty,” and protects them like a “family member,” (direct quotes from industry members) would ensure that fire sprinklers are in place to PREVENT the deaths of horses or, in the least, reduce those who get killed in a fire.
    Now you Sandra point out an analogy “and what of house fires?”
    Well, all houses (at least in Ontario) have MANDATORY fire alarm systems for starters so at least they are notified in time to hopefully get out to safety because they are AUTONOMOUS people who are not locked in their houses 23 hours per day while totally dependent on their caregivers like racehorses are.
    The last time I checked a racehorse doesn’t have a cell phone, internet or a house phone that they can call 911 to give them a chance for survival – the racehorse is a sitting target unable to help itself and that’s why your analogy is completely irrational just like all the delusional apologists.
    I will continue to “make my point,” and “validate” it because this industry is SOLELY responsible for the deaths of thousands of racehorses both on their tracks and the supporting structures that house them for their next day of doping, beating/whipping, maiming, and killing while generating billions in profit.
    All the apologists affected by fires always claim that their horse is so “special,” and they are so upset.
    Well if they truly cared and loved horses then they wouldn’t exploit them and therefore they wouldn’t be locked in a stall burning to a crisp.

    • Thank You Gina.

      I completely agree with you ! There is no justification for abusing horses.

      “this industry is SOLELY responsible for the deaths of thousands of racehorses both on their tracks and the supporting structures that house them for their next day of doping, beating/whipping, maiming, and killing while generating billions in profit.
      All the apologists affected by fires always claim that their horse is so “special,” and they are so upset.
      Well if they truly cared and loved horses then they wouldn’t exploit them and therefore they wouldn’t be locked in a stall burning to a crisp.”

  6. I agree, if not for Horseracing, those dear generous beings would not have been caged and helpless to save themselves. Their free will bpondaged and in servitude.

    When we hold up the value of “life above all else” for humans, to the exclusion of all beings, life means nothing – after all. When the lives of every partner in business is first and always, the rules will change. To allow and condone the continual denial of life to any – is to have a hand in that degradation. Shame on us.

  7. Thank You Patrick.
    I am hoping and praying that 2019 will be the beginning of the END of this horrific abuse called Horse racing.

  8. I’m just asking if the fire was caused by human carelessness or electrical? What should farmers do? They lose cows in barn fires all the time and how many of you blast the farmer for storing hay, and equipment in the same barn?

    • We ARE blasting farmers for their storing of hay and equipment with the cows — by the way, any sprinklers in the cow barns? —

  9. Really you ask how they can sleep and continue on! It’s greed. No clear conscious is what it is. These are people fueled by their ever running need to destroy and as they think prevail no matter what they hurt they don’t care. These kinds of people represent the sick part of our country they don’t care about animals or humans just themselves and what they get. As far as I’m concerned this whole country needs to have an overhaul of the way animals are treated. Animal abuse is said to prove those individuals would also treat humans that way. There’s a lot of terribley deranged sick people that live amongst us. Change needs to start now at our highest levels of government for these animals.

    • Couldn’t agree more, Susan. Until we get federal legislation, we CAN get state legislation. We just have to write the bill and find bill sponsors. It’s not that hard, but takes commitment.

  10. Disgusting loss of life!! Beautiful horses died because humans don’t care if these animals die!! Ppl aren’t held accountable!!

  11. The truth is as plain as day – this all could have be prevented! Common sense, people!

  12. There is little to no fire prevention measures, mainly fire sprinklers, either on tracks or training centers.
    The Fire Department can only recommend because fire sprinklers are optional and not mandatory despite public outcry to change this.
    The industry repeatedly cites lack of money to ensure fire prevention measures for their racehorses while they boast about record breaking wagering and sales profits.
    They receive million in taxpayers money and/or casino profits.
    Yet, they just can’t find it in their budget to ensure that racehorses don’t burn to a crisp in their stalls.
    Yet another example of this industries failure to prioritize the health and welfare of their profit slaves.
    Hardly an industry that cares about their “family members” right?

    • Gina, as the saying goes don’t listen to what I say, watch what I do !
      What racing does to the horse is very clear for all to see – they die on the track or they are loaded on to slaughter bound trucks.
      This nonsense about being part of the family is pure dribble !!!

    • You said it, Gina — again, the excuse of “no money” (for something beneficial and helpful to the Horses) — if this industry didn’t have money, they’d shut it down — they DO have the money for their own pockets, though — I hope, I pray, each & every day, for the continued downward spiral of paying customers, whether they be bettors, track visitors, etc.

    • Thanks for this information James.
      I knew the fire department, full of highly trained people, would find out the cause.
      Of course most barns are full of highly flammable and combustible items, which is why I do outside boarding on my horse with a huge amazing shelter that he goes in and out of.
      For the most part, he chooses outside and he’s 21 years old.
      As for the go fund me account?
      Trainer Mark Steacy has been maiming and killing racehorses for years while making 24 million.
      Hardly a person who requires funding and hopefully insurance (is he has it) will determine that negligence was the cause and not give him one more dime to start up his revolving door of maiming and dying.
      The racehorses have already paid with their lives and I wouldn’t give one dime to any animal abuser.
      May peace be with those horses who suffered a horrific ending due to this industry and the vile people in it.

  13. One more time – drivel! My apologies, for my typing.
    I guess getting too upset about this business does not help. I hate what it does to the horse.

  14. any barn any where can have a fire. any horses that are stabled have the chance to be lost. RACING DID NOT CAUSE THE LOSS OF THESE HORSES! people stable horses and there is always a risk of something happening. many barns have apartments for staff to live in to ensure that there is help nearby should something happen…but things do still happen. was the riding stable that had a fire here in ontario, not long ago, and lost many horses, because of racing too…? i already know that the wild fires in california last year that resulted in a lot of horses passing was also because of racing…even those horses that were not race horses but instead some one private horse who had to be left behind…of course racing caused those deaths too…

    • The fact is that the horse racing industry makes billions of dollars in profit off the bones, backs, and lives of racehorses.
      Yet, they don’t want to spend the money installing fire sprinkler systems or other preventative measures for their profit slaves until they are legislated to do so.
      They do, however, find it in their budget to upgrade their luxury VIP sections for people though.
      If it weren’t for this business racehorses wouldn’t die on tracks, training centers or burn to a crisp in their stalls nor would they die on the killing floor being bled out in slaughterhouses in Canada or Mexico where most end up after this industry is done maiming them.
      They give little to nothing to aftercare relative to their staggering profits.
      This business, the people in it, and their supporting entities are solely responsible for the deaths of these racehorses.
      Also, the fire that recently happened in Ontario, as tragic as it was, was owned by a trainer who has made 24 million dollars exploiting racehorses.
      Yet, he couldn’t find it in his budget to install fire sprinklers?
      Well, ain’t that a shame!

    • Maggie — let’s start over — listen — the Owner makes millions racing Horses — why not install sprinklers? — How much does it cost to install sprinklers?

  15. How can any body sleep you ask? Greed and $ is the number one reason. All these animals are expendable . You will esp see that after their racing career is over many are sent to slaughter. It’s a business. That’s the bottom line. The horses are commodities in a sick practice that abuses and uses them for a means to a greedy end.

  16. SHUT DOWN THIS DESPICABLE INDUSTRY ONCE and FOR ALL — I’m sickened by the depraved neglect, the abandonment, the sadistic, unconscionable training 24/7 — talk about exploitation — talk about “using” — this is beyond inhumane — so many ways to make money — WHY abuse our Horses?!

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