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15-Year-Old On Fast Track


Published: May 21, 2011 11:08 am ET

Last Comment: May 21, 2011 5:43 pm ET | 2 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

She has had her owner’s license for six years, ever since she was refused entry into the barn at Flamboro Downs without one. Fifteen-year-old Rachel Oenema is no newcomer to the fast-paced sport of harness racing. Her father Ted and brother Terry train Standardbreds for a living, so Oenema’s interest developed through osmosis.

Since her early introduction to the industry, Oenema’s involvement has grown to include owning racehorses.

“I have four in my own name and I own a few with my Dad,” she explained.

While acing grade ten at her high school in Woodstock is her top priority, Oenema still devotes a lot of time to her horses. “Because I go to school I don’t exactly get to go to the barn every day, but I’m there every race doing whatever I can to help out.”

Oenema loves all the perks that come along with being an owner, especially when it comes to watching her horses win races. “It feels pretty special when your horse wins a race and you go to the winner’s circle and the announcer calls your name as the owner. It’s an exhilarating rush.”

Last season was particularly exciting − Oenema made several trips to the winner’s circle with her horse Panastasia. The speedy six-year-old pacer scored four wins and four second-place finishes at Grand River Raceway. It was enough to earn Panastasia the award for Top Condition Pacer of 2010, which Oenema happily accepted on her horse’s behalf.

“I was ecstatic! When I got the award I was telling everybody,” said Oenema. She and her father purchased Panastasia three years ago, when her potential as a racehorse was still uncertain.

“She was kind of like the underdog of the barn so we got her for a good deal,” explained Oenema. Luckily, the initial $3,500 investment paid off. “She made over $25,000 last year! To see her be able to fly around the track like that is amazing.”

Oenema is saving some of the winnings in a fund for school and plans to get even more involved in racing when she’s older. “I’m hoping to get a commentating job in the horse racing industry,” she said. Her strategy when it comes to doing anything, from owning horses to getting her dream job, is to “make a goal and do whatever it takes to reach that goal.”

While Oenema enjoys getting credit as the horse’s owner, she says she owes a lot to her family. “Really I owe all of my success to Terry because he looks after the horses every day and he treats them like family.” She knows owning horses at such a young age makes her a bit of rare breed but she takes her role seriously. “There aren’t many young owners. If it wasn’t for Terry and my Dad I wouldn’t own horses. But the fact that my name is down on that card means I have a special connection with the horses and it’s a great feeling.”

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Hilary Eastmure, photos courtesy Iron Horse Photo)

May 21, 2011 - 5:43 pmCongrats Rachel!! Continued

norm files SAID...

Congrats Rachel!!
Continued success.

May 21, 2011 - 12:52 pmAtta girl Rach!! It's women

Atta girl Rach!! It's women like you who make all women in harness racing proud!

I'm proud of ya best friend :)

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