Finish Lines: Couple Thankful Horses Weren’t Lost in Barn Fire
Nina and David Carter are devastated by the loss of their four-stall barn and guest cottage in a fire caused by lightning early Monday morning.
But as distressing as the loss of the structures, assorted tack and one barn cat is to the Carters, they are overwhelmed with relief their four horses were turned out in their pastures when the lightning struck.
“Those horses were born at this farm,” said Nina Carter, who has lived at the Tamarack Lane farm for the past 11 years. “I couldn’t have handled that.”
David Carter heard lightning strike trees near the barn around 9:30 p.m. Sunday night. At 4:30 a.m. Monday, neighbors blew a horn to alert the Carters to the fire, which had engulfed the barn. Firefighters from Southern Pines, Whispering Pines and Vass responded to the alarm.
The fire likely started in a barn light fixture, Nina said.
Denny Emerson, whose Tamarack Hill Farm borders the Carters, called from Vermont to offer help.
“Denny was wonderful,” Nina said. “He said, ‘Just go over and use anything you need.’”
The Carters have already enlisted a builder to help with their new barn.
A proposed “Showdown at the Spa” between 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra and the undefeated Zenyatta is unlikely for the time being.
Jess Jackson, Rachel Alexandra’s co-owner, has committed to running the 4-year-old filly in the Grade I Personal Ensign Stakes at Saratoga Racecourse on Aug. 29. It was speculated that the race might also attract Zenyatta, who set a modern-day record for consecutive wins (17) in capturing the Grade I Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park on June 13.
The Personal Ensign will be run at 1 1/4 miles. Rachel Alexandra has never run at that distance; Zenyatta defeated males in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic (1 1/4 miles) last year. The two horses have never met on the track.
Zenyatta’s owners, Jerry and Ann Moss, have leaned toward campaigning the 6-year-old mare in California as she preps for a title defense in the Nov. 6 Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs.
The Mosses have expressed concern over the condition of Del Mar Racetrack’s artificial Polytrack surface — the track was closed for training July 22 because of uneven spots — but had planned to run her there in the Aug. 7 Clement Hirsch Stakes, a race she has won the past two years.
Trainer John Shirreffs indicated Zenyatta would race two more times before the Breeders’ Cup, preferably in California.
Rachel Alexandra, who started the year with back-to-back losses, won the ungraded Lady’s Secret Stakes at Monmouth Park on July 24.
Jockey Patrick Valenzuela, who won the 1989 Kentucky Derby on Sunday Silence, has returned to riding in California.
Since losing his conditional license in California in December 2007 because of a drunk driving charge, Valenzuela, 47, has ridden primarily in Louisiana.
The jockey, who is old enough to be the father of many of the sport’s leading riders, has been suspended numerous times because of substance abuse problems, and his current reinstatement calls for random drug testing and alcoholism counseling.
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