Tragic Fire at Tioga Downs Casino Claims the Lives of More Than 25 Racehorses

Tioga Downs Casino Resort Fire Kills More Than Two Dozen Racehorses; Suspect Arrested

A devastating barn fire at the Tioga Downs Casino Resort complex in Upstate New York claimed the lives of over two dozen racehorses early on November 9. Authorities have arrested a suspect in connection to the fire.

Law enforcement responded to the engulfed barn in Nichols, New York, where numerous racehorses were found dead. A man who attempted to rescue the animals sustained serious injuries and was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment of second-degree burns.

New York State Police provided an update in the evening, announcing the arrest of 32-year-old Boyd H. Fenton of Athens, Pennsylvania. Fenton has been charged with four felonies, including arson in the third degree, burglary, criminal mischief, and assault.

An investigation discovered that Fenton intentionally started the fire, causing extensive damage to the property. He was arraigned before a judge and remanded to the Tioga County Correctional Facility.

Fenton has a history of criminal offenses, including driving under the influence of a controlled substance, criminal trespassing, criminal mischief resulting in property damage, and marijuana possession.

Located in the Southern Tier, Tioga Downs began hosting horse racing events in 1976 under the name Tioga Park. After it closed following financial struggles, real estate developer Jeff Gural purchased the facility in 2005 and transformed it into a racino. Gural later obtained a casino license, allowing the property to expand its offerings to include slots, table games, a hotel, and a sportsbook.

The 2023 harness racing season at Tioga Downs had been a significant event, running from May to September and featuring the $500,000 Empire Breeders Classic Finals. However, the tragic fire has cast a shadow over the property and the local community.