04/21/2013 5:32PM

Fire near Santa Anita forces Machowsky to evacuate home

Shigeki Kikkawa
This massive brush fire in Monrovia, Calif., was visible from the grandstand at Santa Anita.

Trainer Mike Machowsky knew the brush fire near his home in Monrovia, Calif., was bad on Saturday afternoon when he saw a bear running down his street.

Machowsky’s home is in the foothills east of Santa Anita Park, adjacent to a canyon where approximately 125 acres were burned in a fire that began Saturday morning. By Sunday afternoon, Los Angeles radio stations were reporting that the fire was 55 percent contained.

Many Southern California horsemen and Santa Anita employees have home in Monrovia. Some of them live in the approximately 200 homes that were evacuated as a precaution. No homes or structure were reported to have been damaged in the fire, which was visible from Santa Anita’s grandstand on Saturday afternoon.

Machowsky was forced to evacuate on Saturday, but was told on Sunday that he would be back in his home by the end of the day. He stayed with a friend on Saturday night.

“We had beer and pizza and watched the helicopters drop water on the fire,” he said.

Track president George Haines has a home in that vicinity, but was not subjected to a mandatory evacuation.

“I didn’t have to leave,” he said. “It was getting here and kept getting closer and closer.”

The fire is believed to have been started by accident by a gardener, according to reports.

Diodoro draws 15-day suspension

Trainer Robertino Diodoro has been fined $3,000 and suspended 15 days as part of a stipulated agreement with the California Horse Racing Board after one of his horses tested in excess of the permitted level of total carbon dioxide here in January.

Diodoro’s suspension began on Monday and continues through May 6. He was suspended for 30 days, but the final 15 days of the suspension were stayed provided that Diodoro, 39, does not have a positive for medications in classes 1, 2, or 3 through April 21, 2014.

The overage was found in a post-race test taken from Apply, who finished fifth in the fifth race on Jan. 21 for $7,000 to $8,000 claimers.
Apply finished 12 1/2 lengths behind race winner Big Wags, and had a post-race test of total carbon dioxide of 39.55 millimoles per liter of plasma. The permitted level is 37 millimoles.