Oklahoma tornado hits home for local racehorse trainer

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 23, 2013 - 6:47 AM

Trainer Randy Weidner of Rosemount lost 12 horses and much more.

view larger photos

  

 

Randy Weidner knew the horse was his the instant he saw the yellow wrap on its leg. Standing amid the rubble of the Celestial Acres Training Center near Moore, Okla., destroyed by Monday’s massive tornado, the racehorse trainer understood there was only one thing he could do.

Dead and dying horses lay all over the property, Weidner said, and sheriffs were shooting the gravely injured. His own young horse was among them, still wearing the bandage placed on its leg that morning. “I knelt over him,’’ Weidner said through tears Wednesday, “and I tried to kiss him goodbye.”

Weidner, a native of Rosemount who races at Canterbury Park, lost all 12 horses he had stabled at Celestial Acres. They were among as many as 100 horses killed or unaccounted for at the training center, which housed quarter horses and thoroughbreds racing at Remington Park in Oklahoma City. Weidner and his girlfriend, Lindsay White, who lived in an apartment at the stable, also lost their truck, trailer, equipment and all of their personal belongings to the EF5 tornado that took 24 human lives.

Their friends in the Minnesota racing community now are working to ensure they do not lose their livelihood, too. In addition to setting up a fund to help the couple, some horse owners plan to transfer horses to Weidner’s stable, and others have pledged to give him 50 percent of their horses’ earnings during the Canterbury season. Horsemen’s groups also are meeting Saturday to set up fundraisers.

When Weidner arrives at the Shakopee track later this week, one horse already will be in his barn. A 3-year-old quarter horse named Track A Tac, new to his stable, already had been shipped to Canterbury by his Arizona owners. As Weidner grieved the loss of so many well-loved animals, he found comfort in knowing another was waiting for him, in a place where horses and hope intersect daily.

“Somebody was looking at the pile of horses stacked up [in the tornado’s aftermath] and said, ‘Thankfully, it was just horses,’ ” said Weidner, a past president of the Minnesota Quarter Horse Racing Association. “Those horses are our family.

“We had the best stable we’ve ever had. Now we’re rebuilding. We’ll just try to keep doing what we know how to do.’’

The Facebook page for Orr Family Farm, adjacent to Celestial Acres Training Center, said Wednesday that 34 horses survived the tornado and are in “good to excellent” health. Weidner said one barn was left standing. Four barns, an indoor arena and several paddocks were destroyed.

Weidner lost 10 racehorses, as well as his pony horse — used to escort racehorses to the track — and White’s show-jumping horse. They were finishing their first season racing at Remington Park, with plans to ship one trailerload of horses to Canterbury on Tuesday and another next week.

Monday afternoon, Weidner and White were getting a tire changed when they heard the first storm warnings. Shortly after they returned to the training center, they saw the tornado approaching. They began preparing to load horses into their trailer and take them to safety, but a storm-chasing crew at the farm told them there was no time.

“They turned around as they were driving out and said, ‘You guys need to get out of here,’ ” Weidner recalled. “As we were driving, we could see the tornado in our rearview mirror. It was coming right down the road we were driving out on. By the time we got to the freeway two miles away, they were already saying it had wiped out Celestial Acres.”

They rode out the storm at a friend’s home. On TV, an aerial shot of the training center showed that the barn they and their horses lived in was gone. They returned to the grim scene about 90 minutes after the tornado hit, immediately finding the horse whose leg Weidner had treated so carefully, in the hope that he could start his racing career soon.

Weidner said he and White had “minimal” insurance and will rely on their savings and donations as they rebuild their business and their lives. News of their loss spread quickly among racehorse trainers and owners, and their phones immediately began ringing with offers of help. “We’re a big small family,” said Kelvin Childers, current president of the Minnesota Quarter Horse Racing Association.

Wednesday, Weidner and White walked through the area near the training center to look for any belongings they could salvage before heading to Minnesota. Two more horses are shipping from Texas to join Weidner’s Canterbury stable, but he said his small string may not be ready to race until July.

“It’s going to be a rough go,” he said. “But it will be good to be at my home track. The Minnesota horse community is a tight family, and people are trying to pull together for us. We’ll have our friends and family to help us.”

 

  • related content

  • Monday’s tornado claimed Randy’s Weidner’s truck, trailer and the barn where his 12 horses were stabled at Celestial Acres Training Center near Moore, Okla.

  • Weidner

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 23 3rd Qtr
Dallas 7
Seattle 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 7:00 PM
Nashville
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
FIU 53 FINAL
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 67 2nd Half 0:55
Xavier 79
Illinois 53 2nd Half 14:28
Indiana State 27
Cal State Fullerton 9 1st Half 11:47
Wright State 15
Western Ky 5:24 PM
Saint Josephs
Michigan State 5:30 PM
Rider
UCLA 6:00 PM
North Carolina
Marquette 7:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Long Beach State 7:30 PM
Western Mich
Stephen F Austin 8:00 PM
Prairie View
UAB 8:30 PM
Florida
Rice 8:30 PM
Mercer
San Jose St 10:00 PM
Washington
Washington St 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Baylor 10:59 PM
Memphis
LSU 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(6) TCU 6:30 PM
Texas
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
BYU 28 1st Half 8:18
BYU-Hawaii 13
Charlotte 10 1st Half 10:06
Montana 16
Illinois 18 1st Half 9:56
(9) Kentucky 18
Central Michigan 7:00 PM
Richmond
Oklahoma 7:15 PM
South Florida
Princeton 7:30 PM
Wake Forest
(19) Oregon State 8:00 PM
Butler

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Will the Gophers bring home The Axe?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close