jimmy cruise, sr.
Jimmy Cruise, Sr. was born on October 12, 1917 into the harness racing family of Hardy Cruise of Shepherdsville, Kentucky. Cruise starting driving on the Indiana-Kentucky fair circuit. He won his first race at fourteen. The pacing mare Miss Ruby helped build Cruise's early reputation by winning 27 straight races under his guidance in 1942.
After serving in the United States Cavalry during World War II, Cruise took his new stable to California. There, driving Blue Again, he won the 1946 Golden West Pace at Western Harness. At the time it was the richest race in the sport.
From the 1950s through the 1970s, Cruise was a dominant trainer-driver at Yonkers and Roosevelt Raceways. Splitting his time between the two coasts, he also won numerous driving championships at Western Harness. He compiled 1,761 wins and over $6 million in earnings.
On a muddy July evening in 1958, Cruise won the first five races on the card and the ninth race, six for six. This was an all-time track driving record at Roosevelt with no favorite on the board.
Because of his talent and ability to make a lame horse sound, Cruise was known as "The Doctor." Patience and perserverance were his tools. He built the first swimming pool for horses at Roosevelt and swam his horses in the ocean on the West Coast. Many of his top campaigners, pacing free-for-allers Stormy Dream and Mr. Budlong and successful trotters Express Rodney and Earl Laird, benefited from Cruise's ability to keep them sound. Others were Fast Streak, Sandra Lil and Mamie's Lad. Cruise and Kash Minbar represented the U.S. in the 1977 and 1978 Roosevelt International.
Cruise was named a "Kentucky Colonel" by that state's governor in 1954. He was inducted into the Harness Racing Living Hall of Fame in 1986. Jimmy Cruise, Sr. passed away on January 30, 2002 at the age of eighty-four.
Published in the Harness Racing Museum's 2003 book, The 2002 Immortals