MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There is no denying the competitive nature as horses and jockeys fight for a first-place finish on the race track at Canterbury Park.
Once the race ends, jockeys Nik and Betty Jo Goodwin have a much different relationship.
“We’ve been married … going on two years,” Nik said.
The Goodwins always knew their professional lives would involve horse racing. Both grew up around the racing track.
“I just love horses. I’ve always loved them,” Betty Jo said. “We’re always at the race track and I always said I wanted to be a jockey.”
Yet, it still came as a surprise that the race track was the setting for the start of their family.
“I never knew that I would find love in horse racing but I did. I met my husband one winter in Florida,” Betty Jo said.
The couple returns to Canterbury, Nik’s home track, every summer. The Bemidji native has spent several years racing during the summer months.
“You almost need to be with someone that knows the race track and race-track life,” Nik said.
Betty Jo started joining him four years ago. You could call them a Canterbury power couple.
Nik is the track’s most successful quarter-horse jockey and reached his 1,000 win this summer.
Betty is an accomplished jockey herself — and Nik’s biggest supporter.
“It’s fun to hear her words of encouragement,” Nik said. “It’s a tough occupation at times because there’s lots of highs and lows.”
Betty Jo isn’t intimidated by her husband’s success; she’s looking forward to her first win against him.
“If I can’t win, I like to see him win, but I’d rather win than him [laughs]!” Betty Jo said.
Racing is very much an individual competition, and it’s also a team sport for the Goodwins.
“I always ride better when she’s around,” Nik said.
This is Betty Jo’s first year as a jockey at Canterbury.
The couple has a 2-year-old son together, as well as Nik’s two boys.