Police Arrest Pennsylvania Man Who Intentionally Set Fire To Barn At Tioga Downs Racetrack

Written By Grant Lucas on November 11, 2023 - Last Updated on February 6, 2024
Tioga Downs suffered a fire to one of its horse barns, resulting in the death of over two dozen racehorses and leading to the arrest of a Pennsylvania resident.

The New York State Police made an arrest on Thursday in connection to a barn fire at the Tioga Downs racetrack.

According to a report, the New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation arrested Boyd H. Fenton, a 32-year-old Pennsylvania resident, after responding to the fire in the early hours of Nov. 9.

Police said that over 24 racehorses died in the fire.

Tioga Downs fire sends one to hospital, kills over two dozen horses

According to police, Fenton entered the barn and “intentionally set a fire” at the Tioga Downs racetrack, “causing thousands of dollars’ worth of damage” in the process.

The Tioga County Sherrif’s Office released a statement on Facebook indicating that the first units encountered “heavy fire” within one of the horse barns upon arrival.

Police determined that the barn fire was set as an act of arson, resulting in the dealth of numerous racehorses as well as second-degree burns to one individual who attempted to save the animals. No update was provided on the status of that individual.

According to police, Fenton faces several charges, including arson in the third degree, a class C felony. He also garnered class D felony chargse for burglary in the third degree, criminal mischief in the second degree and assault in the second degree. Fenton was arraigned before a judge on Thursday and moved to the Tioga County Correctional Facility.

In a statement, Jeff Gural, owner of Tioga Downs, called the tragedy “a loss no one could have imagined or expected.” While he could not comment further on the incident as it remains an ongoing investigation, Gural provided a spotlight for those who provided assistance.

“We would like to express our sincere gratitude for all of the first responders who rushed to our aid, we have a wonderful community and we are honored to be a part of it.”

Lengthy rap sheet for Fenton

While no motive was provided by police, they did offer condolences to those who were affected by the criminal act. For Fenton, it’s just another line in an expanding rap sheet.

A resident of Athens, Pennsylvania, located less than 10 miles from Tioga Downs, Fenton has had his fair share of run-ins with law enforcement over the years.

Court records indicate that Fenton has been arrested in Pennsylvania for a variety of offenses, including:

  • Driving under the influence of a controlled substance
  • Criminal trespassing
  • Criminal mischief resulting in property damage

Fenton pleaded guilty to criminal trespassing in June, a second-degree felony, resulting in eight days in prison. He was then placed on 18-month probation after his release.

Photo by Heather Ainsworth / AP Photo
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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is the managing editor for PlayNY. A longtime, award-winning sports writer, Grant has covered gambling and legal sports betting since 2018, when he got his start reporting on the New Jersey and Pennsylvania industries. He now oversees PlayNY as New York expands legalized gambling to sports betting and online casino gaming.

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