Surrounded by Fire, California Thoroughbred Farm Unscathed

Golden Eagle Farm remains unscathed despite having been surrounded by wildfires that forced the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of Southern California residents. On Monday, Oct. 22, it was business as usual on the farm owned by the Mabee family in Ramona, near San Diego.

"We are 100% up and operating," Larry Mabee said. "The buildings, the horses, and our people are all fine. We're in good shape. It has burned 360 degrees around us. Sitting outside and watching it last night it was like that old Johnny Cash song 'Ring of Fire.'"

Mabee said there were some small pasture fires on the farm's perimeter Sunday that he extinguished using the farm's fire truck. He said one reason the fires could not get a hold at the farm was because there was little growth in the pastures because of recent drought.

In addition to Golden Eagle, Mabee said nearby Ballena Vista Farm was also spared the worst of the fires. He said he drove past that farm Sunday night and that there appeared to be some fence damage but that the horses and personnel were fine.

Consisting of more than 700 acres in two locations, Golden Eagle has consistently been one of the leading breeding farms in California. It was established by the late John Mabee and is now operated by Betty Mabee and her son, Larry.

The farm is home to the stallion Salt Lake.

According to published reports, there is a state of emergency in San Diego County, with orders for 250,000 to evacuate. The fires have burned an estimated 100,000 acres in the county.

(Originally published at  

From the front lines: Want to share your stories and photographs of the fires' impact on area horses and farms? Send them to

About the Author

Ron Mitchell/The Horse

Ron Mitchell is Online Managing Editor for The Blood-Horse magazine. A Lexington native, Mitchell joined The Blood-Horse after serving in editorial capacities with The Thoroughbred Record and Thoroughbred Times, specializing in business and auction aspects of the industry, and was editor-in-chief of the award-winning Horsemen’s Journal. As online managing editor, Mitchell works closely with The Blood-Horse news editor and other departments to make sure the website content is the most thorough and accurate source for all Thoroughbred news, results, videos, and data.

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