The 4-year-old filly Scathing won a starter allowance at five furlongs in Thursday's eighth race to become the first horse based at San Luis Rey Downs to start after the devastating wildfire that struck the training center in Bonsall, Calif., on Dec. 7.
Ridden by Santiago Gonzalez, Scatching ($10.60) rallied between horses to finish 1 1-4 lengths in front of Aiming Straight.
In order to be allowed to run, Scathing underwent a two-stage respiratory exam required this week for any horse based at San Luis Rey Downs at the time of the fire.
First, trainer Adam Kitchingman's attending veterinarian was required to sign a statement that said Scathing was fit to run and had undergone an exam that found "no evidence of respiratory inflammation."
Secondly, state veterinarians listened to the filly's breathing with a stethoscope as part of a typical pre-race examination to ensure she was fit to race earlier on Thursday.
The wildfire claimed the lives of 46 horses. Eight barns were destroyed by flames. Kitchingman said last weekend his stable was not severely affected by the fire and that some of his runners were evacuated to Del Mar before the fire reached the training center.
The pre-race procedure was welcomed by wining owner Cody Polansky, a 48-year-old plumbing contractor from Topanga Canyon.
"No one knew for sure, but we thought she was in good shape," Polansky said in the winner's circle. "She's been at Del Mar with no (negative) signs. If there was any sign (of a problem), we didn't want to run.
"Adam's barn was one of the concrete barns. They kept the horses relaxed."
Polansky claimed Scathing for $8,000 on Oct. 6, the day the 4-year-old filly won at Santa Anita. Scatching was seventh in an allowance race for California-bred fillies and mares at a mile on turf at Del Mar on Nov. 10. Thursday's race was her second for Polansky.
"This is what she seems to do," Polansky said. "She's a sprinter and comes from off the pace."