A 6-year-old racehorse who survived the deadly 2017 Lilac Fire at San Luis Rey Downs in Bonsall won her first race in an emotional finish at Los Alamitos.
Lovely Finish pulled away from the field en route to a 3-length win in Saturday’s first race at the Cypress track, a 1,000-yard maiden contest.
The mare had raced seven times previously, including once before she was pulled from the Dec. 7, 2017 fire that claimed the lives of 45 horses. She returned to racing on Sept. 20, 2018, placing third in another maiden race at Los Alamitos.
Her trainer Joe Herrick was ecstatic after Saturday’s victory.
“I had to keep myself from getting emotional because her and I almost lost our lives together,” said Herrick, who was burned on 23% of his body in saving Lovely Finish from the 4,100-acre wildfire, which also destroyed 114 houses and damaged 55.
Lovely Finish had placed third or better in each of her previous seven starts.
“She’s ran well every time,” Herrick said. “She’s never had a bad race. I’ve taken care of her and never ran her when she was compromised. We’ve really taken care of this horse. It was an eight-month layoff (since her last start). I’ve always given my horse time when they need the time and run them when they’re perfect. Obviously, she was perfect tonight. It was good for her come out here and get it done. It was special.”
Lovely Finish was ridden by jockey Anthony Locke.