Polo great Carlos Gracida died late Tuesday night in the intensive care unit of Delray Medical Center after being involved in a polo accident earlier in the day.|
Gracida was 53.
The Hall of Famer and former 10-goal rated player, was playing for Santa Clara in the International Polo Club's Freebooters Classic 14-goal Tournament at Everglades Polo Club.
Another player inadvertently hit Gracida's horse in the head with a polo mallet. The horse, stunned, whipped his head around and hit Gracida's head, knocking him unconscious. Gracida fell off and the horse rolled on top of him.
Gracida is said to have suffered bleeding and swelling on the brain and never regained consciousness.
Gracida was surrounded by family members at the hospital including his sons, professional polo players Carlos Jr. and Mariano, and his brother, Memo, also a Hall of Famer.
Gracida, a Wellington resident, is a nine-time U.S. Open winner, five-time Argentine Open winner and five-time Player of the Year. He was one of the most respected players in polo and a product of the Gracida polo dynasty.
Gracida, born in Mexico City, earned the highest ranking in polo in 1985 and for 15 years maintained his 10-goal ranking.
Grand Champions Polo Club manager Juan Olivera wrote in an email Tuesday night that Wednesday's game between Catamount, another team for which Gracida played, and KIG has been postponed and asked players to keep him in their prayers.
Gracida had just competed Saturday, leading Catamount to an impressive win against Goose Creek in the Sieber Memorial Tournament.
It was the second death at Everglades Polo Club. On April 6, 2007, Summerfield "Skeeter" Johnston died at Delray Medical Center from head injuries sustained in a match when his horse rolled over on him.
Published in The Palm Beach Post on Feb. 26, 2014