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Wallace Devastated By Blaze

Published: January 5, 2016 1:47 pm ET

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“It’s gone. I have nothing. I have nothing. I don’t even have a stopwatch. Nothing. Anything I owned going forward, as far as my profession, is gone.”

An emotional Ben Wallace took time out of his hectic Tuesday morning (January 5) to discuss the tragic barn fire that took place the night before at Classy Lane Training Centre in Puslinch, Ont. (To view a video report on the fire, click here.)

The deadly blaze was contained to Barn 1, which housed horses trained by Ben Wallace, Roger Mayotte, Chantal Mitchell, Kris Di Cenzo, Dan Lagace and Floyd Amos. It is estimated that 43 Standardbred racehorses lost their lives in the fire. Wallace has stated that he lost all 17 of his horses in the blaze, including millionaire Somebeachsomewhere bay Apprentice Hanover, Whiskey N Pie, Proven Effective and Whistle Jimmy K.

“It’s devastating. These are (the horses), by and large, family members to us,” Wallace told Moore in the Morning on NewsTalk 1010.

“It (the fire) occurred around 11 (p.m.) and there were people coming back from racing at Woodbine, but the smoke was so dense that you couldn’t go near it,” Wallace explained. “They (the horses) probably all suffocated before they perished. I think there are probably 42 or 43 (horses that lost their lives), because the barn holds 46, but I think there were a couple of empty stalls, but most of the other ones were full.”

Wallace wanted to point out that he is not the only conditioner to be decimated by the blaze, as fellow trainers Roger Mayotte, Chantal Mitchell, Kris Di Cenzo, Dan Lagace and Floyd Amos also had horses in the barn. Wallace states that the other trainers in the barn are all in the same situation. “It’s hard to imagine where we are going forward,” he said. “It’ll just have to be a day-to-day process to see if we can regroup, I guess.”

Standardbred horsepeople have shown absolutely resiliency when faced with tough odds. When asked, Wallace chose to not look to far down the road, but did state that the horsepeople and owners affected by the tragedy will have to deal with some tough days ahead.

“You’d have to regroup and start over again somehow,” Wallace said, in terms of trainers rebuilding their businesses. “It’s a tough road to hoe, but, again, it’s too difficult to think down the road, it’s just a current thing that we have to deal with right now.

“It’s the horses that we lost which is the tough thing to stomach. Buildings you can build, but these athletes that we have, we love and we cherish. We work with them every day, and they’re gone.”

Everybody in the horse racing industry is encouraged to donate funds to the affected horsepeople via an official GoFundMe page that has been set up by the Central Ontario Standardbred Association. For more on the COSA initiative, or to contact COSA, click here.

(With files from NewsTalk 1010)

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