Hoof Beats Magazine

DEC 2017

Official magazine of the U.S. Trotting Association, covering harness racing and the Standardbred horse.

Issue link: https://hoofbeats.epubxp.com/i/904258

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Page 31 of 141

30 HOOF BEATS DECEMBER 2017 PROFILE Jay Cross I'm chomping at the bit to shoe them," he said. "I'm always looking at horses' feet. If I think I can try to help the horse, that's what I try to do." Maynard Miller, a northern Indiana- based owner and trainer, spent nearly two decades in the Cross barn. He has had the opportunity to observe the horseman as he developed the next crop of racehorses each season. Working with the veteran left him with some lasting impressions. "He's a very intelligent and patient man," said Miller. "He's one of very few words, but when he says something, if you are listening, you can learn a lot." Miller remembers Cross comparing the legs of a horse to the corners of a pole barn. In the analogy, if one post is crooked, it compromises the entire struc- ture. The same is true with a horse and each of its four feet. He also notes that the trainer is quick to help a fellow horseman. "He'll never let you fail, but if you made a mistake, he was the first to help," he said. "He knows that sometimes the best way to learn is to make a mistake, but he's always right there to help." Whether it is coming to the aid of a fel- low horseman, Indiana's racing industry, or the sport's national body, Cross is ded- icated to service. He represents District 2 as a USTA director, plus has served as race secretary at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair and testified before Indiana lawmak- ers on behalf of the industry. And when Hoosier Classic Sale Company LLC con- ducts an auction, he is there helping his brother, Steve, who serves as sale man- ager, both behind the scenes and during sale days. He is as reliable as the trademark toothpick that protrudes from the corner of his mouth. "Jay has been a positive force in the racing program in Indiana," said Jessica Barnes, director of Stan- dardbred racing and breed de- velopment for the Indiana Horse Racing Commission. "Over the years, he has not only been a strong contributor on the track, but also off it as he represents In- diana on the USTA board, and has provided input to help shape our growing program. "Jay has always been one of the horsemen I know I could seek guid- ance from who would think about what was best for the industry and not just his own interests." In this day and age, racing has changed and evolved. Many catch-drivers have a win-at-all-cost mentality. Cross may not get the drives he once did, but there are horsemen that still like to use the veteran at the fairs and at Hoosier Park. "He's the John Campbell of the Mid- west," said fellow trainer Dave White. "You're talking about a guy that has cov- ered all the ground there is to cover. He's a top-of-the-line horseman. Today, catch- drivers are more interested in where they're going as opposed to what your horse is doing. He's a hands-on horse- man, so he's giving you all the aspects." He may not possess gaudy Hall of Fame credentials, but Cross has become an Indiana icon. He appreciates the sport that has served as his livelihood just as much today as when he drove his first pony. Now, it's not about the wins and competition as much as the relationships he has built over the years. "To see the friendships we've made over the years, the human aspect is the most special," he said. "I'm thankful that I have a lot of friends that I can, and have, leaned on. And they can lean on me." James Platz is a freelance writer living in Indiana. y To comment on this story, email us at readerforum@ustrotting.com. '' He's the John Campbell of the Midwest. You're talking about a guy that has covered all the ground there is to cover. He's a top- of-the-line horseman." Dave White TO SERVE: Below: Among his many contri- butions to the sport, Cross has represented District 2 as a USTA director since 2002. Right: He also helps out at the annual Hoosier Classic Sale Company LLC's select yearling sale, and is shown here with his wife, Pam, and Jeremy at this year's event, held in October in Indianapolis. USTA BOARD MEETING BY MARK HALL • FAMILY BY DEAN GILLETTE

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