Firefighters raced into Suffolk Downs Tuesday as a 3-alarm fire ripped through a kitchen.
Dozens of horses in nearby barns had to be moved to safety, none were injured.
“We just had to run to get them, we had to put our shanks on our horses and move them to get away from the smoke,” Pearl Chain, a horse owner and trainer, said.
Horses’ natural instinct would be to run toward the fire so all of their faces had to be covered to keep the animals calm.
"There were jockeys, there were trainers, there was trackside personnel, everybody did what they could. They grabbed a shank and worked together to get all of the horses out. It’s a lot of horses,” Ozzie Rivera, an owner and trainer, said.
Firefighters battled the blaze for several hours, there were moments when it seemed like the flames were receding, then it would flare back up.
“The tower on the top caught, and that collapsed, that went inside the building. They just kept dumping water into it,” Janet Healy, a witness, said.
At the time of the fire nearly 400 horses had been brought to Suffolk Downs for the start of race season Saturday, but crews say only 65 in surrounding barns had to move to different stalls.
None of the horses were injured and electricity was restored to the barns Tuesday night.
Officials said the fire is not expected to impact the start of race season this weekend. Opening day is this Saturday, the same day as the Kentucky Derby.