11/05/2013 4:54PM

Larry Barrera, former trainer, dies at 54

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A graveside burial service will be held for Larry Barrera, son of the late Hall of Fame trainer Lazaro Barrera and an accomplished trainer in his own right, at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Live Oak Memorial Park in Monrovia, Calif. Barrera died at home in Carlsbad, Calif., on Oct. 27. It was his 54th birthday.

Named for his father, Larry Barrera first came into the public’s eye as Laz Barrera’s stable assistant during the successful Triple Crown campaign of Affirmed in 1978. The younger Barrera, 19 at the time, traveled with Affirmed to Kentucky, Maryland, and New York while his father commuted back and forth between the divisions of his powerful, bi-coastal stable.

Not long after Affirmed retired, Larry Barrera took out his own trainer’s license. He sent out Rich Cream to set a world record for seven furlongs at Hollywood Park while winning the 1980 the Triple Bend Handicap and won the Milady Handicap that same season with Image of Reality.

Barrera’s training career was cut short, however, by a struggle with substance abuse that lasted the rest of his life.

"You have no idea how many times I should have been gone," Barrera said in a 2003 interview. "No one ever has to live the way I lived for so many years. I lived the same day every day. Get the drugs, do the drugs. It was a nightmare, and I thank God every day that it's over. But I had to change, or I was going to die."

Barrera experienced a brief renaissance in 2003, training a small stable of horses owned by Aaron and Marie Jones, former patrons of his father, but the comeback did not last. More recently, he had been making contacts as a bloodstock agent for South American interests.

“According to the coroner, it was the years and years of physical neglect related to his substance abuse,” said Mickey Uriza, Barrera’s nephew. “It arrived and presented him the bill.

“But he was trying to get himself back into the racing groove the last few months, sorting through catalogs,” Uriza added. “He was a walking Google when it came to pedigrees.”

Barrera is survived by his older brother, Albert, and his sister, Blanca Barrera Uriza. His father died in 1991, and his mother, Carmen Barrera, died in 2012.