Horse survives wildfire, sets speed record and then sells for $1.5 million

    Belvoir Bay survived a wildfire to become one of the fastest mares on the planet.

    (CNN)They say there is a story behind every champion, but not many narratives can compare to the incredible journey taken by this one special horse.

    From escaping the flames and furnace of a wildfire to breaking records at the recent Breeders' Cup world championships at Santa Anita, Belvoir Bay's "emotional" tale is the stuff of the movies.
      To cap it all, she's just sold for $1.5 million at auction.
      However, her ashes-to-riches story could have been very different.
      In December 2017, the Lilac wildfire in southern California tore towards the San Luis Rey Training Center, a facility that holds and trains some of the best racehorses in the US.
      Fanned by the wind, the fire spread rapidly and there wasn't time to evacuate all of the horses. The only option was to set them free to run for their lives. One of those who set off through the blaze was Belvoir Bay.
      "That was their only chance of surviving the fire. There were hundreds of them and the fires were wild. It was mayhem," the horse's trainer Peter Miller told BBC World Service at the time.
      The fire devastated much of the center. Out of the 450 horses that were evacuated or released, 46 died.
      Javier Castellano riding Belvoir Bay across the finish line at Santa Anita Park.

      Miraculous return

      Like many of the horses let loose, Belvoir Bay was still unaccounted for days after fleeing the flames.
      "It was a living nightmare," an emotional Miller told reporters at Santa Anita. "I thought I lost her."
      Eventually, the horse was found in a nearby barn but she wore the scars of her quite remarkable escape.
      "It was so hard to identify her," said then-owner and former MGM chief executive Gary Barber. "People were sending us pictures and we were like, 'That doesn't look like her'."
      She had suffered severe burns to her legs and was sent to the San Luis Rey Downs Equine Clinic where she spent time in a hyperbaric chamber, a treatment sometimes used on burn victims.
      However, after a couple of weeks of treatment, the horse was returned to Barber and so began her incredible racing comeback.