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Driver Expected To End Hiatus Soon

Published: March 9, 2012 3:09 pm ET

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After a hiatus of nearly two and a half months, Billy 'Zeke' Parker Jr. will soon be back in action at Monticello Raceway.

No, he wasn’t on vacation. He had to interrupt his career to undergo prostate cancer surgery, and, according to Parker, it certainly was no vacation. “It was tough going early on, but it seems like it came out okay. Now it’s behind me and I’m glad it’s all over.”

Late last season, Parker was diagnosed with prostate cancer, but kept driving while undergoing preliminaries that would lead up to the operation. Once a date was secured, Parker steadfastly faced whatever fate had to offer.

“Sure I was nervous, especially since I was going to have my entire prostate removed,” he admitted. “They told me they’d get it (the cancer) all with surgery and it would be a long operation --- five or six hours --- but I came through fine. Recuperating has been slow, but I knew that from the start.”

When asked if he is anxious to get back driving, he said, sardonically, “Nah,” but then added, “well, maybe a little. I’ll start jogging horses tomorrow (March 10) on my track at home and then I try sitting in a sulky and see how I feel. If I’m okay I think I can to be back on March 19.”

Parker out of a sulky would be like a fish out of water. What else would he do? Not only has his entire life revolved around harness racing, but he is, and has been, outstanding at his chosen profession.

Parker, 58, whose 10,623 driving victories ranks him seventh all-time, is also an 18-time Monticello Raceway driving champion. He has also won driving titles at Lewiston Raceway and Scarborough Downs in his native Maine, as well as at Foxboro Raceway in Massachusetts prior to relocating to Monticello, New York in the mid-1980s. Besides his prowess at the 'Mighty M,' Parker also has copped driving titles at Yonkers Raceway.

His last drives came at Monticello on January 3, when in seven starts he had one winner and one second. The next day he was in the hospital ready to undergo surgery.

Coming off 388, 325 and 399 winners in each of his past three respective campaigns, Parker will have to hurry to put up numbers like those again this year, especially since missing action for nearly three months now.

If Parker does get back in action on March 19, he’ll be spotting current Mighty M leaders Jimmy Marohn Jr. and Jimmy Taggart Jr. 70 wins, or so. And he’ll be hard-pressed to produce the seasonal stats that he’s used to.

“Hey, I’ll take it a day at a time. If I do like I did in the past… great; if I don’t… that’s okay, too. I just want to keep on making a living doing what I love to do."

(Monticello)


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