By Bill Finley
Midwest-based jockey Alex Chanchari passed away Wednesday at the age of 29.
His passing was confirmed in a tweet by Canterbury Park, where Canchari had 334 career winners.
“Alex Canchari achieved his dream as a jockey, following in the footsteps of his father and brother,” the tweet read. “The news of this talented and genuine young man's death has deeply saddened the Canterbury Park family.”
Though no cause of death had been revealed by Thursday morning, it appears that Canchari's death involved mental health issues.
“My heart physically hurts,” his sister, Ashley, wrote on Facebook. “I'm so sorry you were in so much pain Alex and thought there was no other way out. I know you're happy again with Dad. I don't even know what else to say, this is an unbelievable loss.”
The Canchari family has had to deal with a number of devastating setbacks in recent years. Family patriarch Luis Canchari, who came to the U.S. from Peru and was a jockey and a trainer, passed away in December of 2020. That same year, Canchari's brother Patrick suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car wreck near Turf Paradise. Doctors told his family the injury could keep him in a vegetative state the rest of his life, but he has made notable progress in recent months.
“This family has gone to hell and back several times,” said Terry Meyocks, president and CEO of the Jockeys' Guild.
Canchari, a native of Shakopee, Minnesota, where Canterbury Park is located, began his career in 2011. He had one of his best years in 2012, winning 101 races. He had 1,044 wins during his career and has career earnings of $28,619,989. Canchari had not ridden since Oct. 2 at Prairie Meadows.
Canchari's death came about seven weeks after jockey Avery Whisman passed away at 23. Whisman's family also brought up mental health issues when discussing his death.
“We've been talking to HISA about jockeys and the mental health issues they face since November,” Meyocks said. “It's on the top of our list and is something that needs to be discussed. This is a tough game. Hall of Fame jockeys win at 18-20 percent and regular jocks when less than that. They get taken off of horses. The foal crop is down and there's fewer opportunities for them. With the daily trials and tribulations of being a jockey it's clear to see why depression sets in.”
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