by Victoria M. Howard
It’s every horseperson’s dream to break and condition a yearling that one day becomes a world champion. It’s the reason so many of us stay in the business, year after year, confronted with unexpected illness, injuries and even fatalities to our four-legged kids.
This year that dream came true for trainer Melanie Wrenn. On July 10, her 3-year-old trotting mare, Guinevere Hall, not only broke the track record at Northfield Park in Ohio, but also a world record (for both mares and colt trotters) in 1:53 on a half-mile with husband Peter in the bike.
Melanie grew up in the business. Her father, Bill Deters, was a respected and successful trainer from Michigan.
“My brother Mike (Deters) and I spent our weekends and holidays with dad and the horses early on. We stabled at Pompano Park in Florida in the winters and resided in Coconut Creek.
“Summers were wherever dad decided to go. We spent a couple living in this great bungalow in Monticello, New York, and other times at Jack Richard’s farm in South Lyons, Michigan.
“We moved to Michigan when I was in the 5thgrade and made a permanent home there, which I’m sure made things a lot easier on my mom, Marilyn.
“My brother Mike and I have always been close. He is three years my senior and for whatever reason he never minded me tagging along.”
When talking about her father, Melanie starts to tear up.
“My dad was probably the hardest working person I’ve ever known. In 1985 he died of cancer and the horsemen had a memorial for him at Northville Downs in Michigan.
“Mike took over his dad’s horses that were stabled at Gilchrist Farm in Bell, Florida, despite at that time he was attending Michigan State University. Thankfully, it all worked out for him.
“One thing my brother and I inherited from our father was a great work ethic. Between that and Mike’s natural horsemanship, he’s ran a successful barn ever since. Not to mention he’s just a great guy.”
Although it was a great loss losing her father, something good came out of it. In life, things happen for a reason and being in the right place at the right time holds true for Melanie.
“Shortly after dad died my friend Troy Boring asked me to meet him for his birthday at a get together. At first I didn’t want to go, but Troy coaxed me to get out of the house. Shortly after I arrived, in walked a man who I would eventually marry and father my 3 children.”
The man Melanie is talking about is none other than trainer/driver Peter Wrenn.
“Peter rolled in, we started talking, and 35 years later we’re still together.”
And what a team they make. Peter Wrenn was no stranger to harness racing for at that time he was a top trainer/driver racing mainly in Michigan.
“Peter started going to Florida around five years ago to winter train. We generally have 20 to 30 horses, although that number seems to be growing.
“We focus mainly on stake horses and winter train at Sunshine Meadows in South Florida.
“Peter stays in Florida those months and I usually go visit one week every month. Being a mother I couldn’t see myself giving up any more time with my kids. Although I miss my husband and being with the horses, I love being a mom.
“We have two boys and one girl and I’m very proud of all of them. Courtney and Billy don’t live at home anymore, but Tyler still does and will be attending Indiana University this year.
“During the summer I oversee our stable at Hoosier Park while Peter’s on the road a lot with our young stake horses.”
Besides their world record mare, Guinevere Hall, the Wrenns have several super horses.
“I’d say Guinevere is our best trotter. Peter and I are so excited to have achieved such a goal. I pretty much go with her on a daily basis for she seems to like women better than men.
“But I can’t take all the credit for Peter has put so much horsemanship into this filly for owners M T Pockets and Dave McDuffee.
“Until recently our best pacer was a horse named Mainstreet. He is special, for he was our first really good horse.
“And Rockin Serena definitely deserves a huge shout out. We bought her as a yearling and she is still competing and winning. Bruce Trogden bought in on her and wanted to breed her, so we pulled three eggs from her and today have two live foals; and a surrogate mare is carrying Serena’s third. All the foals are sired by Fear The Dragon.
“We are really looking forward to breaking her first foal — a filly, this year. Throughout this process, Serena has barely missed a beat. Since returning to racing in 2020 in three starts she has two wins and one second. She’s awesome.”
Yes, Serena rocks, but there are several other rock stars in the Wrenn stable; especially one called Odds On Osiris, who is making quite a name in the sport.
“Odds On Osiris, the son of Rockin Image, was Indiana’s Two –Year-Old Pacer in 2019. Owned by Dana Parham of Odds on Racing, the colt won 7 of his 10 starts as a two-year-old. He has come back real strong this year and we are hoping to take him to the North America Cup and the Breeders Crown.”
Although Melanie has trained and owned many horses throughout the years, a mare called Grandpa’s Ashley (and her foals) hold a very special place in her heart.
“Peter bought Ashley at Harrisburg for his owners. When he got home they informed him they didn’t want a mare, so we wound up keeping her. At the time, it wasn’t the easiest thing to do for we had just moved back from New Jersey and were building a house. I was pregnant with my son, Billy, and it was quite a struggle.
“Although Ashley’s racing career was short lived, one of her foals, Catcharaider, wound up making a lot of money for us.”
Coping to get through difficult times the COVID-19 virus has caused horsepeople and our wonderful sport, the Wrenns keep working hard. That’s what they do best.