Nik Goodwin (pictured on Huckleberry Mojito) was making the rounds of the barns with his agent, Jesse Lomelli, a week or so before the meet got under way in May. They were trying to scare up business, but that immediate business was interrupted by a phone call.
The Ed Ross Hardy barn was on the line and wanted to know if Goodwin was willing to ride first call for them during the upcoming meet.
How long did it take did him to make up his mind?
“Instantly,” he said. “I didn’t even need to think about it.”
Goodwin had second call, behind Tad Leggett, for the Hardys in 2007 and wound up sharing the riding title with Jennifer Schmidt.
The Hardy barn has won 11 training titles since 2000, including this year’s, and Goodwin liked working with them; the decision was an easy matter.
“They have nice horses. They’re nice people. I didn’t have to think about it all,” Goodwin said. “I decided instantly.”
An excellent gut response.
Goodwin surged to the lead in the riding standings early this summer and wound up winning the title without so much as a threat, finishing nine wins in front of Clyde Henry Smith.
Goodwin rode 56 quarter horses during the meet for a 21-19-6 record and earnings of $172,505.
The other day, Goodwin was recalling that May morning when Lomelli got the call from the Hardy barn and informed him of the details at the end of the call. “Do you want to ride first call for the Hardys?” Lomelli asked.
“Absolutely,” Goodwin recalled. “That’s what I said.”
Goodwin has had a good meet on thoroughbreds as well, with 27 wins. He is currently in sixth place, with total earnings of more than $375,000.
He came to Canterbury with the thoroughbred meet uppermost in mind this season, but has had solid quarter horse meets in the past and didn’t hesitate to jump at the opportunity provided him by the Hardys.
If he doesn’t win another race this season, it has been a decided improvement over the 2010 meet when he spent seven weeks on the sidelines with a broken collarbone.
In addition to the other riding title at Canterbury, Goodwin was the leading rider at Assiniboia Downs in 1997. He is a native of the Minnesota’s White Earth Ojibway reservation and graduated from Bemidji High School, where he was on the wrestling team.
Maybe there is a certain karma to the fact that the only horse in the Goodwin barn the summer of 1986 was a quarter horse.
Nik’s father, Duane, trained that single horse during the first quarter horse race meet at Canterbury Park. Now this many years later, Nik is Canterbury’s quarter horse champ once again.
This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.
Photo Credit: Coady Photography