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Eight Thoroughbred horses die in Kentucky barn fire

By Tim Ghianni

(Reuters) - Eight Thoroughbred horses died on Friday in an early morning fire that destroyed a barn on a farm owned by the executive director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission in the state's horse racing capital of Lexington, authorities said.

The farm had been rented to a trainer, Gerry Carwood, who was able to save two foals from a smaller barn, but not the eight horses in the barn that burned to the ground.

The cause of the blaze has not been determined, said Battalion Chief Joe Best, spokesman for the Lexington Fire Department. Workers at an airport control tower several miles away spotted the fire and notified the department, he said.

"For them to see it, it was way too involved for us to be able to save it," Best said.

Firefighters mainly focused on keeping the fire from destroying other structures, he said.

Carwood told Lexington television station WKYT he could hear the horses kicking and screaming when he ran from his home but was stymied by the fire.

"I couldn't get in. I tried to go in, but I couldn't," he said.

John T. Ward, executive director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, said he had rented the property to Carwood. Ward did not know the lineage or value of the horses.

Ward, who was a Kentucky Derby-winning trainer with 2001 champion Monarchos, said Carwood was "really shook up."

Carwood could not be reached for comment on Friday.

(Reporting by Tim Ghianni in Nashville, Tennessee; Editing by David Bailey and Mohammad Zargham)

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