07/23/2007 11:00PM

Lava Man's groom seriously injured

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DEL MAR, Calif. -- Noe Garcia, the long-time groom for the popular Lava Man, was seriously injured in an auto accident en route to work at Del Mar early Monday morning, trainer Doug O'Neill said late Monday afternoon.

According to O'Neill, Garcia lost his left arm in the accident.

Garcia had taken Sunday off and returned to his Los Angeles-area home. He was near Del Mar when the accident occurred, O'Neill said.

Garcia, 39, is in the intensive care unit of Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, Calif., O'Neill said.

Lava Man won the Hollywood Gold Cup for the third straight year in his last start. He is on course to race next in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar, which he won last year.

Garcia also was the groom for Sky Jack, another Hollywood Gold Cup winner trained by O'Neill.

Garcia has worked for O'Neill for 11 years, the trainer said.