01/30/2014 1:58PM

Yonkers: Pierce comes to town with full slate of drives

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Derick Giwner
Ron Pierce will make a rare appearance at Yonkers Raceway on Friday and Saturday.

Hall of Fame driver Ron Pierce has driven more than 6,500 horses since 2012. Surprisingly, despite those horses earning in excess of $20 million, he’s made very few appearances at Yonkers Raceway, the site of the richest purse structure in North America.

The 57-year-old Pierce has been driving exclusively at the Meadowlands and Dover Downs this year, but with the Meadowlands idle for Super Bowl weekend he’s giving the half-mile track at Yonkers a chance and his presence was obviously well received with a full complement of drives.

On Saturday, Pierce will drive more horses on one card than he has totaled over the last three years at Yonkers. His dozen appearances in the bike is a solid three more than he drove at Yonkers combined in 2012-13.

Leading the arsenal of mounts is Dovuto Hanover, a four-year-old that has burst onto the scene at the Meadowlands this year for trainer Darran Cassar.

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“A few starts back at the Meadowlands he was very good,” said Pierce. “That last start I really don’t know what happened, maybe he was a little sick; I’m not sure.”

Dovuto Hanover managed to land post two in Saturday’s $33,000 Open Pace, carded as race six on the 12-race program with a first post of 7:10 p.m.

“He’s very light on his feet,” said Pierce of Dovuto Hanover, while at the same time sending a note of caution.

“I’m not so sure he’ll get around a half mile track that well. He hits his knees some on the big track and I guess he’ll hit his knees on the half-miler,” Pierce said.

Dovuto Hanover not only moves to the half-miler, but faces a formidable task in upending the red-hot Hypnotic Blue Chip. That eight-year-old landed the pole position in a race not handicapped by racing secretary Steve Starr. Hypnotic Blue Chip has won three of his last five starts (all at the Meadowlands) and has already pretty much equaled his entire 2013 earnings in the first month of racing this season.

Pierce is listed to drive the $2 million winner Silent Swing in the evening’s 12th race. “I’ve driven him in the past when he was racing against the elite group,” said Pierce, recalling the golden days for the now 12-year-old from the Mark Ford stable. Silent Swing landed post five and returns to the half-mile track after an extended stay at the Meadowlands.

Second Wind N (post 4) in the evening’s ninth race, a conditioned event for non-winners of $18,000 in last six starts, may be a prime candidate for victory with Pierce showing up for the drive.

“I think he’s a much better horse on the half-mile track than he is on the miler,” said Pierce. The eight-year-old was in against much tougher company on January 11 at the Meadowlands when he faltered, finishing seventh with Pierce in the bike. “He’s a difficult horse to gauge. Some days he’s very good and others he’s not,” said Pierce.

Pierce seemed happy to be driving A J Corbelli (post five, race 10).

“I really love that horse. He’s got a lot of speed and is classy,” Pierce said. A J Corbelli, a son of Rocknroll Hanover, is listed as an 8-1 candidate while stepping up in class for the second straight week despite a fourth-place finish.

Pierce will guide Mortal Zin, a 9-5 shot from the rail in race five. Here’s a rare situation at the Westchester County half-mile oval where a horse that won at the non-winners of $18,000 level can return a week later and actually be dropping in class. Adding to Mortal Zin’s chances of a repeat victory is the pole position.

Domethatagain (post 5, race 8) is a horse Pierce confesses he’s never sat behind. Nevertheless the Erv Miller-trained five-year-old was racing in open company towards the end of 2013 and makes his second start of the season at a reduced level.

Yonkers fans are in for a treat with Pierce in the starting line-up on Saturday. The driver, who also has nine drives on Friday, rarely goes with the flow and usually finds a way to put his horses into play.

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