What to Know
24 horses were killed in a barn fire at Mount Hope Training Center over the weekend
Trainer Don Billings trained 21 of the horses; he says he lost his "best friends" in the blaze, which is still under investigation
The horses, including Mystical Nectar and Tyler the Terror, raced all over, from Yonkers to the Poconos to Saratoga
Two dozen race horses were killed when a fire burned through a barn at a horse training center in upstate New York early Saturday morning, officials say.
Investigators are looking into what started the fire at Mount Hope Training Center in Middletown. The owner says 24 standard-bred racing horses were trapped and couldn't make it out alive.
Don Billings trained 21 of the horses, which raced everywhere from Yonkers to the Poconos to Saratoga. He said he got a call just before 3 a.m. from a worker screaming, "'The barn, the barn, the barn!'"
"I throw my shoes on, I run to the farm, and when I turned the bend, I could see the sky was orange," he said.
When Billings raced to the barn, he found his second home -- his livelihood -- burned to the ground.
Billings said he lost "21 of my closest friends" in the fire.
"They were part of my life," said Billings. "I just wish people would understand that, yes, they're animals, but you get attached to them."
Billings said he'll get back in the saddle as soon as he can. The horses were not insured, but despite the setback he plans to start over and keep training.
"I'm not stopping. I'm not gonna give up because if I do I'm gonna go nuts," he said.