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Longtime Sapulpa jockey dies in horse accident during race at Will Rogers Downs

The horse racing community is mourning the loss of one of their own after a tragic accident on the track over the weekend. (KTUL)

CLAREMORE, Okla. (KTUL) -- The horse racing community is mourning the loss of one of their own after a tragic accident on the track over the weekend.

Gunnar Enlow can’t imagine a life without Mario Chavez, a man he might as well call his brother.

“He was more than a jockey and more than an employee. He was family to us," said Enlow.

Chavez bred and raced horses for the Enlow family for 26 years. It was a job he grew into after showing up one day on their porch looking for work.

“Grandpa hired him on the spot, he’d never been around a horse, didn’t know anything about a horse," said Enlow.

But eventually, Chavez would learn to ride and ultimately race the horses across Green Country, winning many races throughout the years until this past weekend.

The accident happened Saturday at Will Rogers Downs in Claremore when Mario’s horse crashed, knocking off the 42-year-old jockey.

He was airlifted to St. John hospital where he later died.

A freak accident that shut down the track for the rest of day.

“We’re just taking it in stride, and taking it the best we can, and one foot in front of the other so to say," said Enlow.

Enlow says Chavez was in more than 120 races this year alone.

The jockey is no amateur, which makes moving on without him no easy feat.

“He was one of the closest to perfect human beings that I think I could ever name," said Enlow.

A natural in life and on the track. His life over too soon.

“He was doing what he loved, and he enjoyed every minute of it," said Enlow.

Chavez leaves behind a wife and three kids.

His 20-year-old son also works with horses.

The Enlow family has not yet announced what kind of memorial service they will plan.

Chavez most recently won the Tulsa State Fair stakes back in July.

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