04/05/2017 1:48PM

Harness: Sears to return to the bike next week

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Hall of Fame-bound driver Brian Sears plans to return from his winter hiatus next week following an extended break in North Carolina. Sears last raced Nov. 29 at Yonkers Raceway.

Sears had laser eye surgery in December and expected to return to action in February, but decided to prolong his time off until April. He spent part of his break in Pinehurst, where he made trips to the local harness racing track several times a week while also enjoying the opportunity to work on his golf game. He plans to resume racing April 13 following a trip to the Masters Golf Tournament.

“Everything is good,” Sears said. “I’m looking forward to starting back. Too much of a good thing isn’t good. But it’s been fun. I’ve enjoyed my time.”

One particularly enjoyable moment came March 19 when Sears recorded a hole-in-one at the Legacy Golf Links, located near Pinehurst. It was Sears’ first-ever ace.

“That’s one thing I accomplished this winter,” Sears said with a laugh, adding, “It doesn’t mean my golf game is that much better, it just means I’m playing a lot of golf. But it was cool.”

Sears won 301 races last year and $7.49 million in purses. His top wins came with Control The Moment in the Meadowlands Pace and Flanagan Memory in the Breeders Crown Open Trot.

In September it was announced that Sears was voted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame by the members of the U.S. Harness Writers Association. Sears will be inducted July 2 in Goshen, N.Y., the home of the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame.

For his career, Sears has won 9,715 races and $176 million in purses. He ranks 14th in North American history for wins among drivers and sixth in purses. He led the sport in earnings in 2005, with a then-record $15 million, and has finished among the top 10 in purses each of the past 13 years.

Sears has driven three Horse of the Year award winners -- Rocknroll Hanover in 2005, Muscle Hill in 2009 and Bee A Magician in 2013. He has won the Hambletonian three times, with three different trainers, and is the only driver to twice win the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks on the same day. He accomplished that feat with Muscle Hill and Broadway Schooner in 2009 and again with Royalty For Life and Bee A Magician in 2013.

The 49-year-old Sears received the 2009 Driver of the Year Award from the U.S. Harness Writers Association and was the 1991 Rising Star Award recipient from the same organization.

-Courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, please visit www.ustrotting.com