Harness driver Ronnie Wrenn, Jr., is having a banner year.
The 28-year-old Livnoia, Michigan native is only in his fifth season of steering Standardbreds on a professional basis, but says he wouldn’t want to do anything else.
“I just like to win races,” Wrenn, Jr., said. “As unbelievable as it sounds, the purse really doesn’t matter to me. Whether it is a $200 per start or an Open, it just feels good to win and make people happy.”
Wrenn, Jr., hails from a harness racing family: his father Ron Wrenn, Sr. drove 1,995 winners to more than $6 million in career earnings.
After graduating from Hartland (Michigan) High School in 2005, Wrenn, Jr., completed his studies at Mott Community College in Flint before he was bitten by the harness bug.
“I was working on stuff from school on my computer one night and looked up and told my dad I wanted to be a driver,” Wrenn, Jr., recalled. “Dad looked at me like I was crazy. But I was old enough that he really didn’t have a lot of say, and so far it has worked out.”
Wrenn, Jr., said he was 19 “when I jogged my first horse. I was more into sports and didn’t really have time for the horses then.”
That’s quite different for most kids that hail from harness families, who parents often let the children take the lines at a very young age.
Not one to be discouraged easily, Wrenn, Jr., hopped aboard and won a race in just his third trip ever behind a starting gate, steering Artful Power to a 2:04.1 victory on July 22, 2008 at the Holland, Michigan county fair in a $1,400 amateur driving event. From then on, he was hooked.
“It was hard breaking in at first,” he stressed. “I got lucky to be put on some good horses and things just took off. My parents and grandparents really helped me a lot as well as countless other people.”
In 2010 Wrenn, Jr. had 137 starts, with 20 wins, 11 seconds and 20 thirds, with the mounts he drove earning $31,819. The following season he secured 1,226 drives, with stats of 150-149-159 and $499,035.
In 2012 he drove 2,214 horses, winning 437 races, with 341 seconds and 278 thirds for $1.5 million.
In 2013 he won 714 races from 3,117 starts, earning $2,480,373 and earning the national dash-winning title as a result.
This season, he’s already amassed $3,726,894 from 730 winners, and currently sits second on the national drivers list, behind fellow Ohio-based driver Aaron Merriman.
On Nov.10, Wrenn, Jr., scored his 2,000 career victory when he piloted Western Kissed to a 1:55 clocking at Northfield Park, a lifetime best clocking for the 9-year-old pacer.
As of this writing, Wrenn, Jr., has 2,055 career wins and $8,290,467 in lifetime earnings.