Louisiana Downs Racetrack and Casino will join other racetracks across
the country in a moment of silence on Saturday, February 18, 2023, to honor the life of jockey
Avery Whisman. The 23-year-old died suddenly on January 11, 2023, after a prolonged struggle
with the mental and physical demands placed on jockeys.
1/ST Racing and the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund will join tracks for the moment of
silence. Organizers hope that this moment of silence will shed light on the mental health
challenges faced by jockeys. Jockeys at Louisiana Downs and the other participating racetracks
will wear black armbands in honor of Whisman.
“The Jockeys’ Guild sincerely appreciated 1/ST Racing for bringing attention to the important
issues of mental health and other health-related challenges affecting jockeys,” said Terry
Meyocks, President and CEO of the Jockeys’ Guild. “These are struggles that jockeys and the
Guild have dealt with on a continual basis.”
“Mental health is a critical aspect of overall well-being, no matter your age or profession,” said
Mike Rogers, Acting President of the Maryland Jockey Club. “It’s important for individuals to
prioritize and take care of their mental health, and it’s important for us to reach out to those who
may show signs of needing help.”
Laurel Park Race Track in Laurel, Maryland, will name a race in Whisman’s honor on its Winter
Carnival program on February 18. It features six stakes worth $900,000 in purses led by the
$250,000 General George (G3) and the $250,000 Barbara Fritchie (G3). Whisman rode
primarily at Laurel Park in 2019 to 2020. His family and friends will join other jockeys in the
winner’s circle following the race to observe the moment of silence.
“We are so very proud of our son and all he accomplished in his short life,” said his parents
Lyman and Salli Whisman. “In the future, we hope to raise awareness and empower dialogue
within the racing industry around gaps in needed health and mental health support for its jockey
Avery Whisman launched his career with thoroughbreds in California, where he developed a
lifetime friendship with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith. Between 2018 and 2022, he rode 810
races with 90 wins and more than $2.7 million in purse earnings.
In 2019, Whisman won an allowance race on the undercard of the Preakness Stakes (G1),
middle jewel of the Triple Crown, at historic Pimlico Race Course. He rode the filly Ying Yue,
owned by Smart Angle LLP and trained by Mark Reid. He wound up second in the rider
standings to Trevor McCarthy during Pimlico’s Preakness meet with eight wins from 31 mounts.