05/21/2013 9:35AM

Trainer loses entire stable in Oklahoma tornado


Mark Lee, a Thoroughbred trainer who regularly competes in Oklahoma, lost his entire 12-horse stable in the deadly tornado that hit Moore, Okla., on Monday afternoon. Lee was based at the Celestial Acres Training Center that experienced extensive damage at the hands of 200 mile-per-hour winds. He believes a large number of horses were lost in the storm, but said one barn on the north side of the training center simply had its roof torn off and the 20 to 25 horses inside all survived. Lee lives six miles from Celestial Acres.

“I showed up a few minutes after it happened; there were mangled horses everywhere,” Lee said.

“I had one guy in the barn trying to let horses go when it hit. He survived. He dug himself out of the rubble. I have no idea how.”

Lee said the training center was pretty full, and in addition to Thoroughbreds, the facility housed mainly Quarter Horses due to the meet for that breed currently in progress at Remington Park in Oklahoma City.

Lee said there were a number of broodmares and foals stabled at farms surrounding Celestial Acres, and he believes many of those horses were lost in the storm Monday. 

Lee will work to rebuild his stable, but is now simply helping the recovery process at Celestial Acres.

The full extent of the damage to Celestial Acres, which features a five-eighths-mile training track, was not known as of Monday night. Celestial Acres is one of two businesses on a 160-acre tract of land owned by Dr. Glenn Orr and his son, Tom, said Tony Vann, a spokesperson for the family. The other business is Orr Family Farm, a popular tourist attraction that features a petting zoo, trains and a zipline.

Tom Orr is a longtime owner who has horses in training at Lone Star Park near Dallas.


nonoish More than 1 year ago
OK. Oklahoma is known for tornadoes... SO there should be some kind of evacuation plan for horses ..... underground stable or something???? It is just wrong to subject these gorgeous creatures to the possibility of a horrible death such as this. Tornadoes are just going to be more prevalent in this area. It is just heartbreaking that this tragedy happened. Makes me sick. If it were my stables and my horses, I would never recover from such a loss. I am sorry for the human's who lost them, but I am more sorry for the nightmare experience and terror those poor horses had to go thru because humans put them in this position to be so vulnerable to the well known weather patterns in Oklahoma. Shame on humans. Humans are selfish. There is no POSITIVE UKbballfanno.... you are in a dream world. Every kid doesn't need a pony y ride in this state.
Holier Thanthou More than 1 year ago
Your a jerk
UKBBALLFANNO1 More than 1 year ago
Try to CONCENTRATE on the "positive" because what is lost is gone forever. Yet there's still Great Chance to come out of this BETTER THAN BEFORE... My thoughts are with you and the horses who perished or unable to race again. But EVERY KID in Oklahoma NEEDS a "pony to ride" which you can supply a child with a smile that glows worldwide...
Susan Huart More than 1 year ago
Omg! More devastation. It's a tragedy for all who survived this horrific tornado. My sympathy for all the connections who lost god's beautiful creatures. So many lives to repair, so much loss. God bless you all in the recovery.
Christopher McKay More than 1 year ago
My prayers are with you and God will take care of you in a special way! Stay strong and positive!
Judith Donlan More than 1 year ago
Our hearts here in North Carolina go out to all of you in Oklahoma....human and animal. I have yet to hear any mention of the Ok. Large Animal Rescue Team involvement in administering to all the surviving large animals in the area. There should be a team assembled by the State Veterinary Board to answer these types of catastrophic emergencies. We also hae CART (county animal rescue teams) as well. Anyone aware of this type of aid in that area?
Stephanie Jones More than 1 year ago
What is the consensus on turning out the horses in the event of a Tornado or leaving them in their stalls? I feel they are safer kept up.
Judith Donlan More than 1 year ago
Stephanie: When Churchill was slammed by a tornado, all the horses were safe...the roofs of the stables were torn off but remember, this was a category 5! Winds in excess of 200mph, Unfortunately, there probably was nothing that could have been done to save these animals, inside or out. There is just too much debris flying around at 200+ mph, fence posts, metal, telephone poles, etc. I think it depends on how much time one has to prepare as well as the structure of the barn, whether you have trees in your pasture, etc., but it is definitely worthwhile to prepare for such an event if one lives in a perilous location subject to violent thunderstorms, hurricanes and tornados. Your question is probably answered only by the previous circumstances. You know....hindsite is 20/20. I think I'd get the heck out of "Dodge" after this happened more than once and move somewhere else!
Sam More than 1 year ago
I'm with you until your last sentence. A "home" is more than just a building. It's where you decided to live with your family and work in that area. You develop friendships with neighbors, fellow workers, etc. One doesn't just get up and move because the area was stricken with a bad tornado some years ago. We all have to live with the risks given us by Mother Nature.
Sam More than 1 year ago
I might add that I live in the New Madrid Fault - an earthquake area in the mid-west that produced the worst earthquake in our country's history around the 1800s. The Mississippi River ran north; the bells in Boston rang. It's predicted that when it hits again, it will be another biggest one. That's "when" it hits; not "if."
Gay Forstbauer More than 1 year ago
To awful to even imagine. Our hearts go out to all of you.
Terri Bey More than 1 year ago
Praying for Mr. Lee, and all those horses. My heart is broken reading this.
Sidna Madden More than 1 year ago
The Oklahoma Thoroughbred Retirement Program is very concerned about 2 horses, K O Tebow and Okie Leggins, who were recently adopted and were being stabled at Celestial Acres which was devastated by the tornado. We have not been able to get in touch with the owner but are hoping and praying for the best. We have had concerned people from all over the country wanting to know how they can help so we have set up a fund to help the horses and horsemen who were devastated by this tornado. If you would like to make a donation please send checks made payable to the OTRP with a memo noting OK Tornado Horse Relief and send to Oklahoma Thoroughbred Retirement Program, PO Box 96, Blanchard, OK 73010.
Waverly Parsons More than 1 year ago
Sidna....the Race Track Chaplaincy of America has activated its Crisis Response team...The White Horse Riders Crisis Response. We are currently in the area accessing needs. Drop off points for donations and items and equipment have been set up at Lone Star Park, Oak Lawn Park and Louisiana Downs. Let us know if we can be of additional benefit. I am the RTCA Chaplain from The Fairgrounds Race Course in New Orleans.
Dave Schuler More than 1 year ago
We Forget How Strong Mother Nature Is-LOLK-2-ALL-DS