Breeders Crown week kicked off in a big way Sunday, Oct. 22 with the Breeders Crown Gala followed by the 10th Indiana Horse Racing Association Hall of Fame banquet in the Homestretch Clubhouse at Harrah’s Hoosier Park. Three deserving individuals were part of the new class of inductees, including Standardbred racing’s Jay Cross and Joe Putnam. The other inductee was Paul Martin, a posthumous addition from the Quarter Horse racing industry.
Rachel McLaughlin and Emily Gaskin, of Horseshoe Indianapolis and Harrah’s Hoosier Park, respectively, emceed the event. Both ladies excel at their jobs to promote and broadcast about their respective tracks, and provided an added touch to the evening’s festivities. Claudeen Webb, Indiana Standardbred Association chaplain, provided the invocation followed by a special message from Senior Vice President and General Manager Colin Skidmore. The crowd of more than 100 was also treated to a commercial showcasing the upcoming Breeders Crown, set for Friday, Oct. 27 and Saturday, Oct. 28.
Ernie Gaskin, 2021 inductee into the Indiana Horse Racing Association Hall of Fame, provided comments about both Cross and Putnam and welcomed them to the exclusive group included in the Hall of Fame.
Jay Cross has competed in every season of Standardbred racing at Harrah’s Hoosier Park and all 11 years of competition at Indiana Downs. The Middlebury native is still among the track’s leading drivers and has several Indiana Sired Fair Circuit titles to his name. With more than 3,200 career driving wins, Cross has both trained and guided numerous champions and made his mark in the Midwest prior to the arrival of pari-mutuel racing in the state in 1994.
Cross, who has served more than two decades as a board member of the U.S. Trotting Association, was joined by his wife, Pam, and his son, Jeremy for the special presentation. Steve Cross, Jay’s younger brother, provided the induction by talking about Jay’s accomplishments both on and off the track and also how he has influenced so many in the sport. Steve noted Jay’s best traits, patience and unselfishness, were inherited from their father, Harry, who introduced them to horses and racing. Steve ended by reading the resolution to officially induct Cross into the elite group for the IHRA.
Joining Cross in the official photo was Steve and his wife, Darlene, and their two sons, Josiah and Jate. Jate’s wife and children were also in the photo.
Joe Putnam made his mark in racing in his home state of Michigan before venturing down to Indiana when pari-mutuel racing arrived in the Hoosier State. Since that time, he has invested, led, and competed in all facets of the business and has been a major player in the advancement of the sport. Rick Moore, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Racing, made the introduction and talked about his involvement with Joe in several areas of the sport, from his time as President of the Indiana Standardbred Association to their dual roles with the Indiana Standardbred Breed Development. Moore then read the resolution to officially induct Putnam into the Hall of Fame.
Putnam was joined by his wife, Lisa, and his mother Becky and longtime owner Jim Johnson for the induction. His son, Joey, was fulfilling the stable’s obligation for racing in Kentucky and could not attend.
Portraits were unveiled for each of the inductees and will join the display located on the Mezzanine level at Horseshoe Indianapolis. Both Putnam and Cross gave spectacular acceptance speeches even solidifying their place more in Indiana horse racing history.
A full story on the induction of Cross and Putnam will be featured in the November issue of the Indiana Standardbred Magazine, a special edition for Breeders’ Crown.