Pennsylvania man arrested in fire that killed more than two dozen horses at New York racetrack
Dandy Man Shines under jockey Umberto Rispoli wins the US$75,000 Let It Ride Stakes horse race Friday, November 10, 2023, at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Del Mar, California. (Benoit Photo via AP)

NICHOLS, New York (AP) - Authorities are investigating the deaths of more than two dozen racehorses in a barn fire at an upstate New York track that they believe was deliberately set.

The horses were killed early Thursday after the barn where they were housed at the Tioga Downs Casino Resort complex was set on fire, the state police said in a news release. The track and casino are in Nichols, a town of about 2,500 people near the border with Pennsylvania and roughly 150 miles (200 kilometers) northwest of New York City.

A 32-year-old Athens, Pennsylvania, man was charged with arson, burglary and other counts.

According to the state police, an investigation revealed that an individual entered the barn and intentionally set a fire, causing thousands of dollars in damage. The agency didn't disclose a possible motive.

Someone who entered the burning barn to try to save horses suffered second-degree burns and was taken to Robert Packer Hospital for treatment, police said. That person's name was not released.

"We are deeply saddened by today's tragedy, it was a loss no one could have imagined or expected," said Jeff Gural, chairman of American Racing and Entertainment LLC, which operates the Tioga Downs Casino Resort complex. "It is an active investigation, so we are not able to comment any further at this time."

An online fundraiser to aid those harmed by the fire had topped $120,000 by Saturday afternoon, far surpassing its $50,000 goal.

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