Two horses died at Belmont Park Tuesday evening after a fire broke out in Barn 60 near the track kitchen on the backstretch.
The New York Racing Association said in a news release that it responded to the fire at about 6:05 p.m. EDT, with NYRA security joined by backstretch staff and the Elmont Fire Department "in rendering immediate assistance to the horses stabled in the barn at the time of the incident."
The fire was limited to Barn 60, which held 60 horses for trainers Wayne Potts and Jeffrey Englehart. NYRA said 58 horses were safely evacuated from the barn.
In a Facebook post, Potts identified the two horses that died as 3-year-old Beastie D and 9-year-old American Sailor and said he was "heartbroken."
Unraced Beastie D was purchased by Potts and Dan Eubanks in the Ocala 2021 Winter Mix Sale for $15,000. "While we didn’t have him long, his presence was felt as he was an individual with an abundance of class and potential," Potts wrote.
American Sailor was owned by Raj and Vedhya Jagnanan and had a record of 45: 15-9-3. Potts said he was "a part of my family and took my operation to a new level."
He was being prepared for a 2021 campaign, he said, "and he had been training fantastic. This was a horse that owed me absolutely nothing. He was the pride and joy of my stable and was the horse that took me places in my career that I had only ever dreamed of going."
NYRA said no injuries to barn staff or NYRA employees were reported.
"The tragic loss of both horses will be deeply felt by the hard working women and men of the New York racing community, who dedicate themselves to the sport and to the care of these equine athletes," NYRA president and CEO Dave O’Rourke said in the release. "That collective dedication and sense of community was on display this evening, when the heroic and selfless response of so many prevented further loss and saved the lives of dozens of horses."
Trainer Orlando Noda, who has horses in Barn 59, told Horse Racing Nation that he was not at the track when the fire occurred. But he said his staff helped with the effort and took in six horses, "bedding them down and putting the water buckets and hay."
NYRA said Tuesday evening that the New York State Fire Marshal and officials from Nassau County are investigating the cause of the fire, which was not immediately apparent.
Happening now at Belmont Park, barn 60. pic.twitter.com/1RUc3igMq7— Equine Info Exchange (@EquineInfoEx) April 13, 2021
Sad day at Belmont after a fire in Barn 60 claimed the lives of two horses. Our hearts go out to @WPottsRacing and his entire team. It was every horseman’s nightmare, but it was amazing to see everyone band together to catch and care for the affected horses. #BelmontStrong pic.twitter.com/KbeqX0bVG9— Linda Rice (@LindaRiceRacing) April 14, 2021