Here in Chicago, we're lucky. As I gaze out over Hawthorne this morning, the only smoke I see comes from the stacks in Stickney, a few puffs here and there. Contained. Dissolving. Gone in seconds. Otherwise, the air is clear and cold.
In California, they're not so lucky.
Rails, fences, and barn walls may make us feel like we're home, like our horses are safe. But, natural disasters have neither awareness or respect of these boundaries. The Lilac Fire consumed the San Luis Rey training center yesterday, where hundreds of Thoroughbreds live and exercise. Heroic horsemen risked their lives to get the horses out of their stalls before barns burned, and people worked through the night to get horses off the premises, onto vans, and over to farms and stables where they would be safe. This morning, the stables at San Luis Rey still smoldered.
If you can, please help. If you're in Southern California and you can make it to Del Mar to help the evacuated horses in person, go. If you can spare any supplies for horses or volunteers, send them along. If you can spare a few dollars to buy feed, tack, or other resources, donate.
Horse racing would be nothing without the people in it taking care of its own, horses and people alike. Now, we must come together for horse racing in Southern California.
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