08/01/2013 10:09PM

Louisiana Downs runners perish in training center fire

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An estimated 17 to 20 horses died in a barn fire at a training center adjacent to Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La., on Thursday night, confirmed Dwight Viator, who lost five horses in the fire, including four-time stakes winner Look At the Time.

Viator said he was one of four trainers who had horses stabled in the barn, which he described as the first barn upon entering the River Point training center from the Louisiana Downs side. Viator also has a division of horses at Louisiana Downs. He said the fire broke out at about 6 p.m. Central.

“The barn burned down to the ground,” he said. “A fire started in one of the living rooms, the only room that somebody was living in, and I don’t know, it just went in flames.

“I got at call at 6 p.m., was here in five, 10 minutes, and it was gone.”

Viator said he was told one horse broke through the tie chains on the front of his stall and managed to escape the fire. He said it is the first time he has lost horses in a barn fire. Viator began training in the 1970s. 

“What really hurts me, it’s the way the horses die,” he said. “The way those that don’t get out suffer. These horses are like my kids, and the way they died, that’s just not fair.”

In addition to Look At the Time, Viator said the fire also claimed a handful of runners who had won their last starts at Louisiana Downs. Look At the Time, who earlier in the Louisiana Downs meet captured the John Franks Memorial, was a winner of 5 of 11 starts and $266,870 for Hooties Racing.