05/09/2014 9:48AM

Barn fire near Keeneland kills eight horses


A barn fire on a farm located near Keeneland Race Course killed eight Thoroughbreds early Friday morning.

The fire damaged property on Rice Road, which runs behind the historic racetrack. It did not reach the nearby Keeneland Training Center, which houses several well-known horses, including two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that the converted tobacco barn was owned by John Ward, a Kentucky Derby-winning trainer and executive director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. The roughly 50’x60’ barn was located across the road from Keeneland’s Gate 3 leading to the backstretch area.

Trainer Gerry Carwood, who is currently leasing the property according to Bloodhorse, attempted to rescue the horses in the main barn with a farm manager, but the heat and smoke were too great to enter the building. They were successful in rescuing two horses in a smaller adjacent building.

Additional structures damaged in the fire included the adjacent building, a nearby office building, two nearby trees, and the vinyl siding on a building about 30 yards from the main barn.

Workers in a control tower at the nearby Blue Grass Airport discovered the fire, and firefighters arrived at the scene around 1 a.m., but the barn was already destroyed. One firefighter suffered mild injuries during the incident.

The cause of the fire was still unknown as of Friday morning, and investigators were scheduled to inspect the scene later in the day.