Niki Gashing Goodwin
White Earth Nation
Niki Gashing Goodwin, an enrolled member of White Earth Nation, has been gifted the journey of being a professional athlete. He was born in Bagley, MN and grew up on and near Ojibwe country. His parents, Duane and Theresa Goodwin, are Native artists who still live in that area.
Through his family connections and longtime relationship with horses, Nik’s passion was in the horse racing industry. At a very young age he developed the dream to be a professional horse jockey. In 1991 he started riding races in Barnum, MN, recording his first victory in the 100th running of the Carlton County Derby. From this point in his journey, he never looked back. His confidence that he would succeed in this career path allowed him to pass up a full ride academic scholarship at Bemidji State University. He started his professional career in Winnipeg, Manitoba in August of 1993 when he was just 16. By his senior year in high school he had a professional career started and still graduated with honors. Nik won his first professional race in his 13th start on his father's horse Moidore. After that race he quickly won more races and his career was under way leading him to California.
Nik’s nationwide racehorse career was just beginning. Nik received the opportunity to ride at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California, which is one of the premier horse racing tracks in the country. He spent a short time there riding with hall of fame jockeys and learning a lot about his career. Early in 1995, he moved his riding business to Maryland. In Maryland and surrounding tracks, he excelled and became a top rider for years in an extremely competitive mid-Atlantic racing circuit. Since then his riding career has taken him to many places around the United States. Nik has recorded over 1000 thoroughbred wins and multiple quarter horse leading rider titles in a career that has expanded over three decades. He has become the all-time leading quarter horse rider at Canterbury Park in Shakopee Minnesota.
Nik spends the winter months now in Florida where he helps get young racehorses ready for their careers. His work was an important part in the development of champion and Kentucky Derby winner, Nyquist, along with Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. Other great horses that he worked with have been Nadal, Dortmund, Palace Malace, and Competitive Edge.
Now in his mid-forty’s Nik rides a little less and dedicates the rest of his time to his family. He lives in Ocala, Florida with his wife and three boys. Even though he is at the sunset of his career he still enjoys riding and is looking for the next champion.
Photo Credits: Coady Photography and Heather R. Grevelis