Devastating Tornado Affects Horsemen Including Former TTHBPA Board Member McBride

The tornado that ravaged through Indiana and Kentucky, killing 22 individuals, also took a toll on Ellis Park and the horsemen who were stabled there. Former Texas Thoroughbred HBPA (TTHBPA) board member Burl McBride was at Ellis Park and has felt the devastating effects.

Marty Maline, executive director of the Kentucky HBPA, stated that the consequences of the tornado were horrible. He further commented that there was total devastation of the paddock terrace area, the HBPA office, and the racing secretary’s office. He said the main grandstand structure was still standing, along with the clubhouse, but “it was obvious that both structures had sustained terrific damage.”

According to Maline, several sections of the safety rail around the track were missing, bent or shredded. The racetrack and infield were strewn with metal sheeting and fragments of wood. Some of the barns in the stable area were intact, but the all of the barns that were behind the kitchen had been obliterated.

Marty witnessed many horsemen sifting through debris that was once the Ellis Park stable area. Horse trailers and other vehicles were mostly on their sides, and one actually ended up in a field on the other side of a levee. In a few instances, the roofs of the barns were gone, but a side or two of some stalls were left standing. Remarkably, many of the horses huddled against what remained of the stalls and were saved.

Former TTHBPA board member Burl Mcbride’s horses were not so lucky. Two of his horses remained in their stalls; one was twisted in a grotesque position. The other, a promising two-year-old that had won his first race and was owned by Burl, was impaled by a two-by-four. Three of his other horses were in a triage barn of sorts. Veterinarians were busily suturing deep lacerations, and while the horses may be saved, their long range prognosis as a useful racehorse remained questionable.

Many of the horses that escaped the direct fury of the tornado were left with the misfortune of running free in the minefield of jagged metal and splintered wood.

The lower barn area, while not experiencing the total destruction of the upper barn area, did have its share of damage. Ten barns either lost portions of the roof, or the roofs lost their supports and collapsed on the barns.

The Kentucky HBPA, working with officials from Ellis Park and local relief agencies, are finding temporary housing for those horsemen or their employees that were left homeless. It was anticipated that some of the dormitories that were damaged would be ready for horsemen to move back in very soon.

Maline stated “Overall, it was fortunate that there wasn’t more serious injury and loss of life considering the force of the storm. I received several calls from local horsemen and others throughout the country wanting to help in any way they can.”

National HBPA Chairman and President John Roark and National HBPA CEO Remi Bellocq are coordinating fire and disaster insurance benefits that are available to all HBPA members for the catastrophic injuries to their horses.

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