Alex Canchari, a Shakopee native who became one of Canterbury Park's most popular and talented jockeys, died Wednesday.

Canchari's death was confirmed on Facebook by his sister, Ashley Canchari. Though no official cause of death has been announced, Ashley wrote, "I'm so sorry you were in so much pain Alex and thought there was no other way out." He was 29.

One of the most skilled riders at Canterbury Park, Canchari stands seventh on the all-time earnings list at his hometown track ($7.11 million). He is eighth in all-time win percentage (.188) and seventh in all-time in-the-money percentage (.494).

Canchari rode 334 winners at Canterbury, and his 1,000th career victory came at the track last May. During his 12 years in the saddle, he won 1,044 races from 7,598 starts and amassed $28.6 million in purse earnings. Though he rode mostly at Midwestern tracks, Canchari also raced at some of the sport's most famed venues, including Churchill Downs and Santa Anita.

On horseback, Canchari was fearless and bold. He also was known for his kindness and generosity, and his love for racing fans. Canchari often chatted with spectators at Canterbury and gave his racing goggles to children gathered near the winner's circle.

"He reached great heights as a professional rider,'' said Canterbury Park media relations manager Jeff Maday, who had known Canchari since the rider was a teenager. "He will always be the Shakopee Kid to many of us, though. We will remember that infectious smile and humble nature, as well as his drive to succeed, aided by great natural talent.''

Before Canchari became a jockey, many at Canterbury knew him from his first job at the track, dishing up Mexican food in the grandstand. Back then, he told people he planned to become a jockey, following his father, Luis, and brother Patrick into the saddle.

Canchari began his career in 2011, just days before his 18th birthday. In 2016, he guided his mounts to a career-high 140 victories; his best year for purse earnings came in 2018, with $3.73 million. Over the course of his career, he won at a 14% clip and finished in the money in 40% of his races.

Canchari's biggest victories at Canterbury included the $100,000 Lady Canterbury Stakes, which he won in 2016 aboard Secret Someone, and the $100,000 Curtis Sampson Oaks, won in 2013 with Stoupinator. He also rode some of the top horses in Canterbury Park history, including Hot Shot Kid, A P Is Loose, Amy's Challenge and Honey's Sox Appeal.

Though Canchari often experienced the elation of winning, he also dealt with tragedy in recent years. Patrick Canchari suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident in 2020, and their father died later that year at age 64. Alex had not ridden since October, when he closed out the season at Iowa's Prairie Meadows as the track's fifth-leading rider.

According to a GoFundMe account set up for the family, survivors include Canchari's fiancee, Brooke-Lyn, and children Leon and Penelope. The couple also is expecting a baby due in August.