Goodwin Seeks First Northlands Futurity Victory

Jockey Nik Goodwin has accomplished much during his quarter horse racing career at Canterbury Park. The native of Bemidji, Minn. is the all-time leader in wins, 140, and in purse earnings, $1.59 million, in the history of Canterbury Park and Downs. Goodwin was late to the party this year, not arriving until the end of July. He rode the entire 12-race quarter horse card on July 28 and won four times, including the first three races, hitting the board in three more and quickly reminding racing fans that might have forgotten that he indeed is the quarter horse king of Shakopee.

“It was nice to get back to riding and to win right away,” Goodwin said that evening. “It was a nice return back to Canterbury and my home state.”

Goodwin has won many stakes on both thoroughbreds and quarter horses but one missing from his resume is the Mystic Lake Northlands Futurity, tonight’s sixth race. He will ride A Fabulos Painting, the second fastest qualifier for the meet’s richest quarter horse race trained by the track’s top conditioner Jason Olmstead who has six of the 10 horses in the final. Olmstead fancies A Fabulos Painting and said that if the 2-year-old, who may finally be putting things together, remains composed “he can outrun them all.” Olmstead knows a little about winning this Futurity. He has done so four of the past five years.

A Fabulos Painting got his first win that night with Goodwin up. He had missed the board in three prior starts. One of the speedy gelding’s owners, track announcer Paul Allen, is thrilled. “I love it. To have the winningest rider in the history of the track and the only one in four starts to get this horse to win is fantastic.”

Goodwin likes his chances and will try to deliver for the connections and notch his belt with a first Northlands Futurity victory. “He broke well last time,” Goodwin said. “He drew a good post for this race. He can win.”

Jockeys’ Weight, Leverage Decline


What has become increasingly more evident as the current racing meet progresses is that jockeys can’t throw their weight around this summer.

Not like they used to, anyway.

Not even talented, veteran riders can take anything for granted.  An accomplished jock can’t lock up a barn, make it an exclusive source of mounts this summer, not for long anyway, not if he’s not riding in peak form or something approaching it.

Certainly, specific stables stay with respected riders as they always have, but now they might not rely on only one or two as they’ve done previously. They don’t have to. And it doesn’t matter what breed of horse they stable.

“We’ve never had this many good riders, quarter horse and thoroughbred at the same time,” said Ry Eikleberry, a two time thoroughbred and three-time quarter horse riding champ.

In the thoroughbred colony alone there are five former riding champions. In addition to Eikleberry, Jareth Loveberry, Leandro Goncalves and Dean Butler, a five-time riding champ, are making their presence felt.  And, although he has been struggling to gain attention from trainers after a lengthy hiatus from racing, Derek Bell, a Hall of Fame six-time riding champion has joined the ranks in recent weeks as well.

And previous riding champs are being challenged daily by Franciso Arrietta, who has led the rider standings much of the summer after winning nearly 200 races over the winter at Turf Paradise. Eikleberry is right on his heels, one win back heading into Saturday’s card. Orlando Mojica, who is having a solid summer with 19 wins, including the richest race of the summer, the $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby, is next, two in front of Butler.

Loveberry  is one back of Butler and two in front of wily veteran Eddie Martin, Jr., with Goncalves next.

The quarter horse colony is loaded, too. Nik Goodwin, a two-time champion, has nudged into the lead in recent days and has one more win than defending champion Cristian Esqueda. Josh Romero is third, two out of first and two in front of Eikleberry and two-time champion Jorge Torres and four other riders _  Eugenio Alberto Navarrete, Jr. Mark Jasso, Marcus Swiontek and Cody Rodger Smith.

“It’s been a lot more competitive this year, really tough,” said Torres. “Three years ago there were one or two really good ones, even two years ago, but now it’s really changed, a lot tougher.”

Good riders abound this summer. It is a trainer’s paradise. The conditioners have the upper hand. One false move, and an unforgiving trainer might dish out his equivalent of a pink slip, his version of walking papers. Conditioners have the leverage, the ball is in their court and they are playing it on a daily basis.

“Never been like this before, with both quarter horses and thoroughbreds,” said Goodwin. “Now, anybody in the (jockey’s) room can win if he gets the right horse. It’s very competitive, very tough.”

During meets in which two or three riders stood out, they had the upper hand, could reject mounts they didn’t want in favor of those they did, or have an agent spin them off one excellent mount for an even better one if it became available.

Not any more, not with same impunity anyway. Not with so much talent on the grounds.

Nowhere is it any more apparent than during morning workouts that riders with ability abound.  As they scout the barns to work horses in an effort to secure mounts, riders are confronting a new reality.

“Every morning there is a lineup at my barn,” said trainer Shawn Davis, who will then survey the applicants. “All I have to do is point at one of them,” he said, ” and say, ‘You. I’ll take you.’ ”

2017: A Look Back

By Noah Joseph

Well, it’s that time of the year. Closing weekend is upon us. The 2017 season is almost in the rear-view mirror, and it was a wonderful season. Here’s a look at some of the great moments.

For the fans, there was much to see, and parts of the summer had gone to the dogs. Literally, thousands of fans showed up to watch dogs race, whether it was wiener dogs, bulldogs, or corgis. Extreme Day was an extreme success with camel, ostrich, and zebra races. Also, the Indian Horse Relays were a success in their own right.

This year brought some records along with it, too. Jockey Nik Goodwin got his 1,000th career win. Canterbury Hall of Fame trainer David Van Winkle also got his 1,000th win, and Hold for More became the richest horse in Canterbury Park or Downs history.

There were several new names to make their presence felt in the Canterbury jockey colony. Jareth Loveberry was one of them. In just his first season at Canterbury, Jareth has won 69 races, including one week where he had 13 victories. He is named to ride in 25 of the 26 remaining races. Another jockey, Chad Lindsey, also in his first season at Canterbury, won more than 20 races. The familiar names like Alex Canchari, Dean Butler, and others had successful seasons as well. Leslie Mawing, who rode at Canterbury at the beginning of the century, returned to Shakopee and won more than 40 races.

The racing was top notch as always, especially in stakes competition. Hotshot Kid took his connections on a wild ride, winning the Vic Meyers and Minnesota Derby; Sweet Tapper used her late closing kick to run down Insta Erma in the Lady Canterbury, Puntsville had a dominating score in the Hoist Her Flag running the fastest six furlong time of the meet. The Fiscal Cliff dominated his foes in multiple stakes en route to being one of the best quarter horses to run at Canterbury. Hay Dakota, a Grade 3 winner and local horse just holding on in the Mystic Lake Mile; and Giant Payday’s flying finish in the Mystic Lake Derby.

2017 was a great season for Canterbury fans and horsemen alike. Here’s to 2018 being just the same. To all the Canterbury employees, horsemen, and fans, thank you!

News and Notes at Canterbury – August 4

Sunday’s feature race is the $52,600 NCQHRA Futurity. The fastest qualifier from the trials held two weeks ago was Jjsir James.

The 2-year-old gelding is trained by Randy Weidner and was ridden by Justine Klaiber  for owner Jerry Olson. In this video Randy talks about Jjsir James past, present and future.

Jockey Nik Goodwin has a mount in that futurity Sunday, but on Saturday will be at Mountaineer Park in New Cumberland, West Virginia to ride in the Grade 3 $750,000 West Virginia Derby aboard Heartwood for trainer James Chapman.

Last night the top two quarter horse trainers, Jason Olmstead and Ed Hardy, each won a race allowing Olmstead to maintain a five-win advantage over Hall of Famer Hardy. The jockey standings are much closer. Leader Oscar Delgado won the second race last night, answering Brayan Velazquez’ first race win. Delgado has a 14 to 13 edge. Goodwin is four from the leader. Owner Thomas Scheckel is atop the owner standings with seven wins, one more than Dean Frey and two more than Corey Wilmes. Expect to see many of the local quarter horses at the Prairie Meadows meet that begins Aug. 19.

Nationally acclaimed rock band the BoDeans will play two sets on the Mystic Lake Music Stage Saturday. The first is slated to begin at 4:15 and the second follows the races at 5:40.

Look for as news story featuring Nik Goodwin and Betty Williams on WCCO TV (channel 4 locally) Saturday at 6pm and again Sunday at 6am. [ Watch it here ]

There will be a Canterbury flavor to the $75,000 Manitoba Derby on Monday at Assiniboia Downs. Trainer Joel Berndt is sending Lothenbach Stables’ Diamondmaze, winner of his last two starts in Shakopee, to the Winnipeg racetrack. Jockey Quincy Hamilton will be there to ride.  Robertino Diodoro has a pair entered. Canterbury Hall of Famer Scott Stevens will ride Tizfun for Diodoro, who last year won this race with Inside Straight for owner Randy Howg, who also owns Tizfun. Inside Straight went on to win a grade 2 at Oaklawn this winter.  The entire Assiniboia card is simulcast at Canterbury on Monday.




Right place at the right time. An urban myth, pure fantasy, akin to a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

Try telling that to jockey Nik Goodwin or Jim Western, a contractor from Sanger, California. They aren’t apt to buy it, not after what happened on Sunday.

Goodwin was in his truck on the phone with his father Sunday morning when trainer/owner/breeder Dean Frey approached him. Western so happens to be working in Woodbury this summer, building a new Costco store.

Sunday afternoon  they were both part of the Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby because of their specific circumstances, both enjoying a victory by a horse name Kowboy Jim.

First some details. Goodwin is having the summer of his career and it just keeps on giving. He was in his truck in the right place at the right time. Frey saw him and approached with an offer. “He asked if I wanted to ride his horse in the Derby,” Goodwin said. Of course, he did.

The Derby was worth $81,125, the richest purse in the race’s history. “I knew his horse had the fastest qualifying time,” Goodwin added.

Frey originally intended to use Berkley Packer who was unavailable at the last moment. No explanation was offered so it is possible he: A. Was having a late breakfast. B. Missed his flight. C. Was abducted by aliens.

Goodwin didn’t have a mount in the race, despite the fact he has more wins than any other rider in track quarter horse annals. Of course he was willing to ride

Now, for Jim Western’s part. He is a neighbor to Frey in California and the two are close enough that Frey named the horse for him: Kowboy Jim.

Kowboy Jim won the race easily, finishing 1 ¼ lengths in front of Pyc Jess Bite Mydust with Bout Tree Fiddy a head out of second in a time of 19:78, matching the time he posted in the trials on July 2 under Packer.

Western recalled that Kowboy Jim was a “slow developer” but had certainly improved from what he observed on Sunday. “He came across the line so easily,” he said.

It was obvious from paddock to track to gate that Kowboy Jim was quite comfortable in his own skin, calm, relaxed and comfortable with his surroundings.

“He’s all class,” said Frey. “In the morning when the chores are done, he lays down in the stall. Seems to know what it’s all about.”

Kowboy Jim went across the line easily, proving at the same time that right place, right time are akin to clean break, no interference.

The second place horse in the race got a poor break and was steamrolling at the end, closing ground like a cheetah on steroids.  Would Pyc Jess Bite Mydust have won with a clean break?

Rider Bryan Velazquez thought so. Velazquez said the horse throws its head in the stall, interfering with the timing of his break. “He had to go around several horses and still finished second,” said Velazquez. “With a clean break, he would have won.”

That sometimes is the only difference in quarter horse racing, a small break means the difference between winning and running second. Just as it was right place at the right time for Kowboy Jim and his connections, PYC Jess’s head was in the wrong place at the wrong time for his chances on Sunday.


Two large pizzas arrived in the pressbox on Sunday, one of them inscribed with a note of thanks to everyone who had backed her on Thursday night. Sent by a horse!!!

Here is the note that accompanied a large pepperoni:

To Jeff + the Boys…

Thanks so much for rooting so hard for me on Thursday!

Couldn’t have done it without ya!!!!

Love, Annoy

Annoy is a six-year-old mare bred in Kentucky and a winner of its 10th career race on last Thursday night’s card. Owned by Nichole Helen Biebighauser, trained by Eric Heitzmann and ridden by Alex Canchari, Annoy has earnings of $190,000 after winning Thursday’s race, certainly enough to keep sending those pizzas each time she wins.

Jockey Nik Goodwin Enjoying Another Successful Summer

Jockey Nik Goodwin won his 1,000th career thoroughbred race in June and is also one of the top quarter horse riders in the history of Canterbury. On Tuesday he guided the talented Xerxes Avenue to victory in the $50,000 Frances Genter Stakes.

The 3-year-old filly went to the lead at the start and never relinquished it, winning by one length over Double Bee Sting.

“The way she broke…, I really didn’t want to take her out of her element,” Goodwin said. The jockey’s original plan was “to let a couple of speed horses go” but when Xerxes Avenue found the lead she “ran really relaxed,” Goodwin said.

Xerxes Avenue is trained by Gary Scherer and is owned by Jeff Drown of St. Cloud, the same combo that brought Nik his 1,000th win on Saganaga.

In this video, Goodwin, a Minnesotan, discusses his career.




He remembers the first winner of his riding career as if it were last night, and he will remember this one too, well into whatever age his life allows.

His name is Saganaga, a 4-year-old, gelding, and he became the 1,000th  winner of Nik Goodwin’s career Thursday night.

It happened in the sixth race on this 9/5 favorite and Goodwin was beaming afterward, taking the class of this race to the winner’s circle, where the trainer, Gary  Scherer, and several family members awaited.

He needs one more win aboard a quarter horse to tie Ry Eilkleberry for the all-time lead in that category.

How appropriate someone said, outside the winner’s circle Thursday night.  A Minnesota-bred on a Minnesota-bred. A native of the White Earth Reservation and Bemidji, Goodwin  was delighted that this winner came at Canterbury Park, where he attended the card on the track’s grand opening as Canterbury Downs in 1985, as a 10-year-old.

Now he has a story to tell when Weston Goodwin, who’ll turn two in September, is old enough to appreciate the details:

You were there the night I rode No. 1,000. You were there in your stroller with your mother, Betty Jo, pushing you from paddock to grandstand and later the winner’s circle, just as you were most if not nearly every day I rode in Shakopee during the summer of 2016.

A story of achievement to pass from father to son, a small chapter of paternal family history.

A Minnesota story to be sure, since his home state is the only place Goodwin rides any longer.  All summer in Shakopee and then back to Florida during the winter months, the 2-old-in training sales, maybe even to break a few babies in the spring before returning once again to Shakopee.

There is a six-week hiatus or so after the Canterbury meet at home in Bemidji before that departure for the Southeast.

That he has reached this milestone at all, Goodwin says, is attributable to good health, the ability to avoid serious injury and the accompanying long-term recoveries. And the way he divides his year with horses now and how he benefits from a respite. . “That’s another thing, when I come up here in the spring I’m fresh and ready to go again, to hit it hard again,” he said. “When I rode out east there were times I was riding day and night, for weeks on end. That wears on you. It did for me.”

The main thing, Goodwin says, is staying healthy, keeping his weight right and riding actively. “The lifestyle keeps you fit,” he said.

Granted, 1,000 winners pales in comparison to racing’s all-time leaders: Russell Baze 12,842, Lafitt Pincay, Jr. 9,530 or Bill Shoemaker 8,833. Yet, this achievement has its own place nonetheless, as a part of local racing, and an acknowledgment at the same time that the sport has changed immensely since many of its all-time greats were in their heydays.

It has changed as well for Goodwin, who once rode throughout the year, but restricts his riding any longer to the meet at Canterbury each year.

Goodwin grew up riding horses that belonged to his grandfather and fell into racing quite naturally, competing at county fairs as a youngster in northern Minnesota.

Now 41, he was a young teenager when he rode the winner in the 100th running of the Carlton County Derby at the county fair in Barnum.

He brought in his first winner as a professional on a horse named Moidre in 1993 at Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg. The details remain clear for obvious reasons. The horse was owned by his father, Duane, and the mount was his 13th.

Goodwin rode for a decade or so in the East, primarily in Maryland, before returning home to ride at Canterbury Park in 2006.

Trainer Gary Scherer estimates that Goodwin has ridden 50 winners or more for him since he arrived in Shakopee. Scherer describes Goodwin as not only a hard worker, as a “real professional” but as a “great guy with a big heart.”

He also recognizes Goodwin’s expertise with young horses. “He’s excellent with babies. He can give you good insight on horses.”

There seems to be a growing belief among several trainers that Goodwin would be in the top tier of the jockey standings if he were riding the same caliber horse as frequently as those who regularly compete for the riding title.

Scherer, for one, says that Goodwin would have ridden his 1,000 winner some time ago if he didn’t restrict himself to Canterbury meets.

“I’ll bet he would have reached it five years ago,” Scherer said.

Five years ago, seven years ago or Thursday night, Goodwin reached this milestone right where he would have preferred, on a Minnesota-bred at the home track in his home state.

News & Notes plus Northlands Futurity trials results

Six trials for the $167,600 Mystic Lake Northlands Futurity were conducted Sunday. The 10 fastest qualifiers for the richest quarter horse race in the history of Canterbury Park or Downs are below. The final will be run Sunday, July 2. Marcus Swiontek rode the quickest of the 10, Olivias Jett.

Nik Goodwin rode the winners of trials 4 and 5. He now has four quarter horse wins this season and is two wins from tying Ry Eikleberry, the all-time Q win leader at Canterbury, who has 107. Last season Goodwin became the all-time leader in purse earnings and currently has amassed $1.1 million in purses for his connections. Goodwin is also two thoroughbred wins away from reaching 1,000 career victories.

Lady Canterbury Stakes and Mystic Lake Mile next Sunday

Nominations for two $100,000 stakes races, the Lady Canterbury and the Mystic Lake Mile, closed over the weekend. Both races will be run on Father’s Day.

Racing continues Thursday with a 6:30 p.m. first post.


News and Notes for May 28

There were three Quarter Horse trial races yesterday, the first three Q races of the meet. The trial races qualified the fastest 10 horses for the Gopher State Derby. Of those 10 qualifiers, four of them (One Famous Sign, Corona Springs, Heza Prospect and Eyes A Racin) are trained by last year’s leading Quarter Horse trainer Jason Olmstead.  Bob Johnson had a pair of qualifiers (Faster Than Hasta and Toast On Fire), and Rudy Ramirez also had two (Lil Baby Eagle and Tinys Courage). The remaining qualifiers were La Mos Pyc (trained by Lori Harris) and Fast N Famous Jeans (trained by Manuel Mojica Campos). One Famous Sign was the fastest of the 10. The final will be run Saturday, June 10 with a purse of $32,750.

The Canterbury Racing Club 2017 won with their first starter of the meet, Brilliant Belle, trained by Nevada Litfin. She was ridden by Justin Shepherd to a one-length victory and paid $28.40 to win. Find more information about the racing club at .

As jockey Nik Goodwin inches closer and closer to 1,000 career victories (on Thoroughbreds), he is keeping very busy! For the last several years, Goodwin has spent his winters training young horses in Ocala, Florida and riding them for their breezes in the 2 year-old-in-training sales. Last week, there were two such sales that happened to be on opposite ends of the country. Goodwin  flew out to California on Sunday night to breeze two-year-olds on Monday for the Barrett’s Sale before taking the red-eye to Maryland to breeze two-year-olds at the Timonium Sales on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Trainer Larry Sterling Jr. had a successful Sunday at Canterbury Park, winning with two of his three runners. He won the 6th race with Quality Indeed and the 8th race with Red Zone. While Sterling had never trained at Canterbury prior to today, he spent several summers at Canterbury as part of the jockey colony. Sterling won 1,565 races from 12,274 starts during his career before retiring in 2010. As a trainer he has run 38 horses, with four winners, three seconds and six thirds. Two of those wins came today.

Racing continues Monday at 12:45. Bulldogs share the stage with thoroughbreds and quarter horses.  Two $50,000 stakes will be run on the turf: the Northbound Pride Stakes and the Honor the Hero Stakes.

by Katie Merritt

Racing Friday and Saturday – News & Notes

By Katie Merritt

While there aren’t any stakes at Canterbury this weekend, there are a few very competitive allowance races carded. Tonight, the 3rd race, a six furlong allowance for Minnesota-breds, three and up, is highlighted by Mac Robertson-trained Glacken’s Ghost. The four-year-old gelding is coming into the race off of three consecutive wins at Oaklawn Park this winter, most recently taking an allowance optional claimer by a determined ½ length under rider Alex Canchari. Canchari rode Glacken’s Ghost in all three wins at Oaklawn and is aboard him again on Friday.

The 7th race of the card is also an allowance for three and up, run at a mile. Malibu Max, another Robertson trainee, is the morning-line favorite for the race, coming in off of two game third-place finishes in allowances at Oaklawn after nearly a year off. The Joel Berndt-trained Handy Candy, who most recently finished 5th in a tough allowance race at Keeneland after two second place finishes in allowance optional claimers at Tampa Bay Downs, is a close second choice.

Saturday features a 6 furlong allowance race for Minnesota-bred fillies and mares three and up. It will be the 7th race with a field of eight. Strawberry Bomb, trained by William Martin, is the morning line favorite at 2-1. The four-year-old filly has already won two of four of her races in 2017, and was 3rd in another. Her last start was a disappointing 8th in an allowance at Oaklawn, after a bad start out of the gate. Francisco Bravo’s Stella’s Princess is the 3-1 second choice. She recently finished last in a stake at Will Rogers Downs, but won her prior start, which happened to be an allowance at Canterbury Park last year. Starship Mischief, trained by Berndt, is a hard-trying filly that has run five times at four different tracks and has never finished off the board. Her last race was an easy win in a $15K claimer at Hawthorne, and she is the morning-line third choice.

Even in the absence of stakes action this weekend, these allowance races should be very competitive and exciting for both players and spectators alike!

Milestones on the Horizon

In other news, there are two Canterbury Park staples that are nearing impressive milestones in their careers. Both jockey Nik Goodwin and trainer David Van Winkle are quickly approaching 1,000 wins!

Goodwin currently has 995 wins. His first mount tonight in race 2, Fort Lewis Rivers for trainer Berndt, is 2-1. He rides Danzig Flare who is 6-1 for trainer Miguel Silva in race 6. In race 7, he rides Paschal for Dan McFarlane, also 6-1. On Saturday, he has two mounts: Northland Gold (6-1) in the 2nd for Bruce Riecken and Guska Mon Shoes (4-1) in the 6th for trainer Tammy Hornsby. It’s unlikely for him to win all five and reach 1,000 career victories on Sunday, but it is certain that he will achieve that massive milestone in the very near future.

Van Winkle is sitting at 996 wins. He has Unique Gold (3-1) entered in the 1st race on Friday, and Real Windy (5-1) entered in the 4th race on Saturday. He won’t make it to 1,000 victories this weekend, but he’s got two nice opportunities to get a couple races closer.

Preakness Saturday features a pair of local stakes

Nominations for the May 20 Lady Slipper Stakes and the 10,000 Lakes Stakes close today. Both are six furlong sprints restricted to Minnesota breds with $50,000 purses.

Minnesota Racing Commission to meet Thursday

There will be a Full Commission Meeting on Thursday May 18, 2017 at 4:00 pm. The public is welcome to attend. The meeting will be held at the Ben Pomeroy Student/Alumni Learning Center, Room 213, at the University of Minnesota, 1964 Fitch Ave, St Paul, MN 55108.

Advance Wagering on Preakness and Black-Eyed Susan Next Week
Available Thursday, 5/18/17:
– Advance wagers for Friday’s Pimlico card (Black Eyed Susan is race 11)
– Advance wagers for Saturday’s Pimlico card (Preakness is race 13)
– Black Eyed Susan/Preakness Double Wager (race 11 on Friday and race 13 on Saturday)

Available Friday, 5/19/17:
– Advance wagers for Saturday’s Pimlico card (Preakness is race 13)
– Friday’s Pimlico card (Black Eyed Susan is race 11)
– Black Eyed Susan/Preakness Double Wager (race 11 on Friday and race 13 on Saturday)

Katie Merritt is a senior at the University of Kentucky and currently an intern in the Canterbury Park Press Box. Before returning to school she galloped at several tracks around the country, but spent the majority of her time working for Carl Nafzger and Ian Wilkes.