Updated: ‘Part Of The Family,’ Jockey Mario Chavez Killed In Accident At Will Rogers Downs

by | 10.01.2017 | 9:50pm
Jockey Mario Chavez

Jockey Mario Chavez was aboard Fishin Paint in Saturday's third race at Will Rogers Downs, breaking from the inside post position in a 350-yard Futurity for 2-year-old Paints and Appaloosas. The horse broke a bit awkwardly, but Chavez was able to straighten him out and put him back into the race. Less than 100 yards in, Fishin Paint took a sudden, sharp left turn and crashed into the inside rail, dislodging Chavez.

The 42-year-old jockey was airlifted to Tulsa's St. John Medical Center, and Will Rogers officials made the decision to cancel the rest of Saturday's 12-race card. Equibase‘s chart reports that Fishin Paint did not finish the race, but walked off the track under his own power.

According to long-time employer Ray Enlow, the owner and trainer of Fishin Paint, Chavez suffered severe brain trauma resulting in irreversible brain damage as well as a broken neck. Chavez was kept on life support through Saturday night and Sunday morning, but the machine was the only thing sustaining his life functions. Family members made the difficult decision to take Chavez off life support at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, and the rider passed away peacefully surrounded by his loved ones.

“He came to us at 16 years old knowing absolutely nothing about horses, but hoping for a job,” said Ray Enlow's daughter Janell. “He didn't know anything about a horse, but he was willing to work. He started out cleaning stalls and cutting the grass, and just quickly became a part of the family.”

Chavez has worked with Enlow for 26 years, helping grow the racing business from a fairly small operation to over 40 Paints and Quarter Horses in training. Enlow also developed a farm in Oklahoma where he and Chavez bred, broke and trained most of their own stock.

“My father became solely dependent on Mario for everything,” Janell Enlow continued. “Nobody broke any of the babies except for Mario, nobody galloped any of the horses other than Mario, and nobody rode the horses in their races other than Mario. He will be greatly missed.”

Chavez leaves behind a wife of 23 years, a son and two daughters. His son is also involved in the racing industry.

  • Richard C

    The Tulsa World story is very brief — this PR staff report actually has more information. Hopefully, the Tulsa World will pursue updates…..which can then be picked up by racing publications.

    • Terry Meyocks

      Your views from 4 days ago you mentioned the Jockeys’ Guild and your baseball analogy was confusing to me, For over 75 years the Jockeys’Guild has been at the forefront in horse racing for safety for riders(which includes exercise riders) and safety for horses. We all know our industry is dangerous but just in the last 2 weeks besides Mario,one exercise rider who also worked as an outrider has died and a jockey who rode at Colorado fairs has also died. Safety of horses means safety for human beings as well. The jockeys should have a voice regarding anything that could endanger them. Jockeys are independent contractors and the Guild works on their behalf for their benefits,safety issues and equipment,representation at tracks, stewards hearings and to State regulators. In your baseball analogy you mention some sit in clubhouse; I wish for the Monday morning quarterbacks to have a better understanding of our industry and sure hope that one of their family members will never be effected as the families of the three riders I have mentioned.

      • MsMoose

        Well said! R.I.P. Mario!

  • Ida Lee

    OMG …. please be OK ….

    • Ida Lee

      I’m so sorry for your loss ….

  • Sara Maguire

    He passed away about 3 hours after the accident.

    • Terry Meyocks

      I am sure that is not correct. Let’s not kid ourselves that this is very serious.

      • Sara Maguire

        His Son posted it on facebook

        • Terry Meyocks

          Thank you
          R. I. P Mario

  • Minneola

    My deepest condolences to the family and the associates of Mario Chavez. I get the impression that a lot of people (mostly novice fans) just see the pretty horses and colorful silks worn by jockeys. They do not realize how dangerous this sport is, both, for the horse and the jockey. I had a group at one track ask me why there was an ambulance following behind the horses during the race. I had to explain that, not only have a number of jockeys become disabled but some do lose their lives. That group went silent for a couple of minutes while this information sunk in.

    • Terry Meyocks

      Growing up in this sport, that I truly love, and I have been very fortunate to say the least but it sure can be very cruel at times. Times like this shows we have more work to get done to help our industry as well as the equine and human athletes, in so many ways. But to get this work it takes everyone to come together which our industry hasn’t done very well over the years’.
      Thanks for your positive comments.

      For now condolences to Mario’s family and R.I.P. Mario Chavez

  • Edgar Frose

    Dangerous game and a miracle this doesn’t happen more often.

  • Beau Geste

    My deepest condolences to his wife, son, family and his Enlow family. This is the day that every jockey lives with every day, hoping that it never comes.

  • Don’thaveaclue

    Sincere condolences to Mario Chavez’s family, the Enlow family and all who knew this hard-working man.

  • Kelly J Pompa

    RIP Mario Prayers for your family and the Enlows

  • Meydan Rocks

    All this for our enjoyment. So so so sad.


    • CEOmike

      There are on average, 7 deaths a year caused by playing baseball. Everything causes death, because we all die.
      I am glad he died doing something he loved, I am sad his time was short, no one could have predicted this horse “going off” or the subsequent events.
      It is always terrible to lose someone you love, it seems Chavez was one fine person who was loved by many.

  • Eric

    So, so sorry to hear this. The working relationship between Mario Chavez and Ray Enlow was fairly unique in Oklahoma quarter horse racing, and there are 2 families that will deeply grieve this loss. RIP Mario Chavez.

  • Condor


  • Kathy Young

    This is so tragic. God Bless Mario Chavez and prayers for his family and friends. So sad.

  • Larry sterne

    My deepest and most profound sympathy to the Chaves family.

  • whirlaway

    Sincere sympathy to the Enlow family and the family of Mario Chavez at the loss of their beloved family member. After 26 years this gentleman was I am sure deeply loved by the Enlow
    family that he was a member of as well as his family. A terrible loss.

  • Barry

    Rest In Peace.

  • Shirley Mae Keller Verhoef

    So very sorry.

  • Richard Murrison

    So sorry for the loss of a great rider and Horseman. RIP

  • Boknows

    May God Bless and Keep Mario and family in there time of need!! RIP..

  • CloudGirl211

    Racing is an inherently dangerous sport and accidents like this drive that home for us…rip mario

  • Bryan Langlois

    So sad. Condolences to family and friends of Mario.

  • Flying J

    Godspeed sir, prayers for you and your family.

  • ctgreyhound

    Chavez sounded like a hard working & caring man. To his family, prayers to you & condolences.

  • Stan

    Deeply saddened. My prayers to the family and all affected.

  • Steve Yoshimura

    Very similar in the way Val Tonks died at Los Alamitos in the 80’s. The horse broke well and then went left into the inner rail throwing Val into the eighth pole at Los Alamitos.

  • D. Heim

    Mario and Fidelia Chavez were personal friends. My heart is broken over his loss and I am praying for his family. He loved them dearly.

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