The life of a professional groom is rough. Often, the grooms are the unsung heroes and heroines who get the horse to the show ring on time or to the starting gate in excellent mental and physical condition. One groom who was considered indispensable was Noe Garcia. The soft-spoken native of Guatemala has worked for Thoroughbred trainer Dough O’ Neill for almost a dozen years, and is probably best known as the groom of Lava Man, a gelding that has earned more than $5 million. When Garcia didn’t show up for work at the Del Mar racetrack near San Diego, Calif., O’ Neill suspected something was wrong. Indeed. The van Garcia had been driving was rear-ended in the early morning hours of July 23 as he was going to work. Garcia’s left arm was severed in the collision, causing severe blood loss. However, Garcia made a recovery and was released from the hospital July 30. He is expected to return to the barn in some capacity as soon as possible.
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