Two Jockey Suicides Bring Awareness to Mental Health Crisis in Horseracing

Sally Mixon, founder of Abijah’s on the Backside

Ashley Canchari prefers to remember her brother as he lived. One of the most popular jockeys at Canterbury Park, Alex Canchari brimmed with talent and charisma, a Shakopee kid who achieved his dream at his hometown track.

But that wasn’t why Ashley was invited to speak at Saratoga Race Course earlier this month. During a discussion about the mental health concerns faced by jockeys, she told a room full of people how Alex died: by suicide, on a bleak March night, not far from the track where he rode 334 winners.

“I wish every day he would have said something to me,” she said in an interview last week. “But he never showed us he needed help, that he was in a dark place.

“And that’s the thing. In the horse racing industry, these issues have never been discussed. They’ve been swept under the rug.”

More on this tragic story on Mental Health Crisis in Horseracing from Minnesota’s Star Tribune


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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 19-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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