Zip The Lip Speaks Volumes

Published: October 20, 2011 10:18 am EDT

There was no silencing Zip The Lip last week at Grand River Raceway. The three-year-old gelding trotted the fastest mile of his life in 1:59.1 for

trainer Jennifer Rankin on October 10 and now heads to Western Fair on Friday night for the first leg of the Middlesex Trotting Series.

Rankin’s horses have had an excellent season in Elora. The 34-year-old ranks sixth among the track’s top trainers thanks to 13 wins in 53 starts. She marked her 100th lifetime win on September 23 when five-year-old pacer Flight Award winged his way into the winner’s circle at Grand River Raceway.

“He has done really well!” said Rankin, more focused on her horses’ maiden win than on her own milestone.

Of course, Rankin was too busy getting ready for the next race to celebrate much, but that’s just part of the hard work that goes along with harness racing.

Rankin currently trains 15 horses at her family’s farm near Flamboro Downs in Dundas. Rankin works alongside her father, Callie Rankin, a talented trainer in his own right. He moved to Ontario from his family’s horse farm in Frenchvale, Nova Scotia 25 years ago to pursue his racing career. He won Trainer and Driver of the Year several years in a row at Flamboro Downs, but was sidelined by an accident two years ago.

“My parents were in a bad car accident so my sisters and I kind of stepped it up and helped with the business,” explained Jennifer, who has been training horses since 2002. Luckily, Jennifer’s parents have recovered and are back to contributing around the barn.

“Dad is a really good blacksmith, so he usually can work with the trotters and tweak their shoes. Trotters are usually more finicky than pacers with their shoes; they need more weight and balance.”

Of the 15 horses in the Rankins' barn, only two are pacers while the rest are trotters. When it comes to exercising that many horses, she says it helps to have a jogging truck.

“We jog four at a time,” Jennifer said. “Instead of putting them in the cart we hook them to the truck, which saves tons of time!”

And time is a precious commodity for Jennifer, who also works part time at the Ontario Harness Horse Association in the financial department. While it’s a busy lifestyle, she says she loves the challenge of training horses and she plans to stick with it.

“I like everything about it! And to work with my family, that’s awesome! A lot of people can’t say that they like to go to their job in the morning but I love it.”

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Hilary Eastmure)

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