Jockey Kota Fujioka died Wednesday, four days after falling from his horse during a race, the Japan Racing Association announced Thursday.

Jockey Kota Fujioka is pictured in Kyoto on Nov. 19, 2023. (Kyodo)

According to the JRA, Fujioka is the first jockey to die as a result of a racing accident since 2004, and the 20th since 1954.

The 35-year-old Fujioka suffered head and chest injuries after falling in Saturday's seventh race at Hyogo Prefecture's Hanshin Racecourse. A racing official said Fujioka did not regain consciousness.

His death sent shockwaves through the racing community with the JRA releasing a statement from the head of the Japan jockey club, 55-year-old Yutaka Take.

"I have never felt this much pain and sadness," said Take, who has a record 4,491 JRA wins to his credit. "I still can't believe it."

"Going forward, I want to race with thoughts of Kota in my heart."

Fujioka was a winner of 803 JRA-sanctioned races, including two Grade 1 races, the 2009 NHK Mile Cup and last year's Mile Championship.

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