Ron Pierce has been busy this year, so busy he didn't realize he reached another career milestone Tuesday (Dec. 3). Pierce got lifetime North American win No. 9,000 yesterday when he drove No Bu to victory in the 13th race at Harrah's Philadelphia. No Bu, trained by Rene Allard, won by a length over Sheer Brilliance in a $13,000 conditioned race at the five-eighths-mile oval.
"I didn't even know,” Pierce said about reaching the milestone. "I guess I've been out there so long that everything keeps going up. I'm lucky I'm still able to do it and I've been really busy. I've been doing a lot of racing, but it doesn't bother me. I'm in shape to do it.
"Nine thousand is a lot of wins, but I would have gotten there sooner if I didn't mess up so many times,” he added wryly. "If I could do every race over again, I'd have 20,000 (wins). But that's true for everybody.”
Pierce, 57, ranks No. 14 in wins among all drivers in North American harness racing history. Earlier this year, he joined John Campbell as the only drivers with more than $200 million in career purses.
This year, Pierce has set career highs for wins with 519 and starts with 3,331. His victory total is eighth best in North America and he ranks fifth in purses this season with $11.3 million, giving him nine seasons of at least $10 million over the last 10 years. He just missed in 2012, by less than $10,000.
Pierce, who was inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2005, won three Breeders Crown trophies this year, pushing his lifetime total to 29. He ranks second in triumphs in the year-end championship series.
He was the regular driver of two of the sport's top horses, Jimmy Takter's 2-year-old filly trotter Shake It Cerry and Chuck Sylvester's 3-year-old gelding trotter Spider Blue Chip, winning multiple stakes with both.
Pierce also won a Breeders Crown with 2-year-old colt pacer Luck Be Withyou, a Pennsylvania Sires Stakes title with 3-year-old filly trotter Frau Blucher (in a dead heat with Classic Martine), and the Credit Winner with 4-year-old gelding trotter Intimidate.
"Looking back, itwas a good year,” said Pierce, who spent the early part of his career racing overseas in China. "For me, the highlight was getting to drive Shake It Cerry.When I first started driving her, I thought she was the best 2-year-old filly trotter I ever drove. The more I drove her, the more I thought she was the best2-year-old trotter I ever drove.
"We'll keep ourfingers crossed she comes back (at age 3) good. With her gait, heart andability, there's no telling what she could do. She was so impressive.”
Spider Blue Chipalso will return to the races next season, following a campaign in which he wasamong four trotters to surpass $1 million in purses for the year.
"I've been racing against Chuck all my life and never really had the chance to drive a good one for him,” Pierce said. "When he asked me to go with Spider, it was quite an honor. I have, like so many people in the sport, a ton of respect for Chuck. It was a pleasure to drive for him.”--By Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications