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Langley barn fire an 'unprecedented loss' for B.C.'s horse racing community

A barn fire in Langley that killed 18 horses over the weekend is an unprecedented loss for the B.C. racing community, the general manager of Fraser Downs Racetrack and Casino said Monday.

The June 1 barn fire at 224 Street near 40 Avenue in Langley resulted in the death of 17 race horses belonging to JJJ Stables and one family horse.

Fraser Downs general manager Ken Stratton offered condolences, adding both Fraser Downs and casino operator Great Canadian Gaming Corp. are “deeply saddened by this calamity.”

JJJ Stables is owned by Rick Mowles and managed by Bill Davis, a driver and trainer at Fraser Downs. Both have played an important role in the racing operations at Fraser Downs and in the provincial racing industry, Stratton said.

“We would like to express our deepest sympathies and condolences to Rick Mowles, the entire Davis family and all those impacted by the fire,” Stratton said in a statement.

“This is the first time in our recollection that such an incident occurred causing unprecedented loss for the B.C. racing community.”

In the days to come, Great Canadian Gaming Corporation and Fraser Downs will be looking at ways to help JJJ Stables in their recovery process, he added.

Jackson Wittup, executive director of Harness Racing B.C., said seven of the horses were two-year-olds who hadn’t yet started their careers at Fraser Downs, six were three-year-olds getting ready for the fall season, and four were resting up from the spring meet that just concluded.

Together, they were valued between $700,000 and $1 million, representing an extreme loss financially, and emotionally for the stable, because most had been bred and raised since they were foals, he said.

Meanwhile, efforts are already underway to help Bill and Laurie Davis, who lost their entire livelihood in the fire, from harnesses to racing colours and helmets.

See related story: Fundraiser for victims of Langley barn fire.

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