04/21/2015 8:12AM

Harness: Hall of Famer Ron Pierce now aiming for a June return

Derick Giwner
Ron Pierce was originally expecting to return to the bike in late April.

Hall of Fame driver Ron Pierce was supposed to be back in the sulky by now. Some six weeks ago it was announced he would miss approximately five weeks of action due to neck and back surgery, but neither operation has been performed.

“I was supposed to have the first operation on March 11 (back) and then get the neck done on the 16th,” said Pierce. “I found out on the Monday before the surgery that they couldn’t do it right away because of other issues. I’ve had a heart murmur my whole life and my blood pressure was low. The cardiologist got scared and I had to take tests for a month to prove I was fine.”

Always cool under pressure and willing to take risks on the track, Pierce, a winner of 9,569 races in his career, not surprisingly has a “low resting heartbeat” that was initially of some concern as well.

Having passed all his preliminary tests, Pierce is finally scheduled for surgery on April 30 (back) and May 7 (neck).  Ultimately he hopes to be back by the second week of June.

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“I’m still pretty stiff and sore, and I have to be careful how I move,” said Pierce on his current condition. “After years of pain, finally my body said you better fix me or I’m not going to work anymore. It will be so nice to live the last third of my life pain-free”

Despite the delay, Pierce remains in good spirits and has been occupying his time with as much outdoor activity as his body can handle.

“I never thought I’d miss racing so much after doing it so long, but gosh, I really miss racing horses,” said Pierce. “I’ve been doing as much yard work as I can, but I’ve mostly been fishing.”

As stakes season kicks off, Pierce, who has driven horses to over $215 million in earnings, will be missing out on some top drives between now and June. Trotter of the Year Shake It Cerry makes her 2015 debut on Friday at The Meadows and will be without Pierce in the bike for the first time in her pari-mutuel career.

“With Jimmy (Takter) I’ll get all my top horses back. He stopped by here a couple of times to see how I was doing,” said Pierce on horses like Shake It Cerry and Uncle Lasse. “I haven’t really been in touch with any of the other trainers. I basically had my phone off for about a month.”

Despite his laid-back persona, the California native is obviously chomping at the bit ready to get back in the bike. Hopefully, if all finally goes as planned this time around, we’ll be enjoying his talents in about six weeks.