More than four months after the Lilac Fire burned San Luis Rey Downs, the horses left homeless and injured are finally coming home.
“It was terrible," horse trainer Sal Gonzalez said. "We've never seen anything like it."
Gonzalez's 12 thoroughbreds horses have been recovering at the Del Mar Racetrack since the conflagration ripped through their home in December at San Luis Rey Downs in Bonsall.
"I had a couple of horses that got loose because of the fire," Gonzalez said. "One of them got kicked in the pelvis and broke his pelvis. Another one got kicked in the ankle and broke his ankle. So got a couple of horses that got damaged.”
After the fire, hundreds of horses recovered at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. It opened its stables until these horses can get back on their hooves.
"It wasn't very easy," he said. "We had to cope with the blows. We had horses that were hurt, horses that inhaled a lot of smoke. It took a while for them to get back to normal life."
But life is returning to normal for these prized fillies and colts, 200 of which are loading up into trailers to return to San Luis Rey Downs by Monday.
Gonzalez's thoroughbreds have not only healed since the fire, four of them have raced first place to the finish line.
"We just want to be thankful that we had people behind us," Gonzalez said.