A barn fire claimed the lives of 12 horses at the South Florida Training Center early Wednesday morning.
A single barn containing 23 horses was engulfed in flames, but 11 were rescued. Two have been taken to a local equine hospital in critical condition.
“This is just devastating,” farm owner Sam Stathis said.
It was his barn that caught fire. Horses were also stabled in the barn for trainers Roman Lopez and Thomas Haughton.
“I am sick with grief over the horses that have lost their lives,” Stathis said. “The fire department did all they could and saved many of the horses.”
Two firefighters were taken to an area hospital to be treated for injuries.
The fire was first reported around midnight and a full investigation into the cause is underway.
Located on State Road 7 south of Wellington, the South Florida Training Center is a Standardbred harness racing facility and home to nearly 500 horses. The single barn was the only one affected by the fire.
Stathis, owner of the South Florida Training Center, also owns Stathis Enterprises and is the founder of the World Chariot Racing Federation.
A horse racing online radio program, Post Time with Mike and Mike, has set up a GoFundMe account to help the horsemen and the training center. The group will split all funds raised through the site between trainers Roman Lopez and Thomas Haughton to help offset their costs.
“The early outpouring of concern from so many people this morning is tremendous,” Stathis said. “I am financially fine, but hope that everyone could support this fundraising for Roman and Tommy. They have lost everything.”