A man has admitted to setting a fire at the Tioga Downs Casino Resort in New York State, which resulted in the deaths of 30 horses. Boyd H. Fenton, 33, pleaded guilty to third-degree arson, second-degree assault, and 30 counts of animal cruelty. Prosecutors plan to ask for the maximum penalty at his April 19 sentencing.
Authorities believe Fenton was under the influence of drugs at the time of the incident, as he claimed to have thought people were chasing him. Fenton is currently in custody at the Tioga County jail awaiting his sentencing.
The tragic blaze also injured a trainer, Edgar Clarke, who suffered second-degree burns. The incident has left the equestrian community devastated. Kayla Morris, who lost 12 horses, recalled her desperate attempt to save them from the fire. Morris’ horse, Better Call Saul, was one of the victims, with a successful racing career and a special place in Morris’ heart.
In response to the tragedy, fundraisers were set up to support the impacted horsemen and trainers. Casino owner Jeff Gural pledged to match $100,000 in donations, resulting in several hundred thousand dollars raised for those affected.
The Tioga Downs Casino Resort, located near the New York-Pennsylvania border, offers casino gaming featuring 890 slot machines and harness racing. The horses that perished in the fire were used for harness races, adding to the profound loss experienced by the racing community. The devastation caused by the fire has led to an outpouring of support and fundraising efforts to assist those affected.