Born in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, he was the son of a dairy farmer who went on to become a prominent figure in harness racing and the first Canadian to be selected to the Little Brown Jug's Wall of Fame. His greatest accomplishment was in training horses in particular when he developed the great champion, Strike Out.
A long time director of the Canadian Trotting Association, for ten years John Hayes served as its president and was Vice-Chairman of the Ontario Racing Commission.
It had been Hayes' lifelong dream to win the Little Brown Jug. Famous for having told a newspaper reporter: "I'd rather win the Little Brown Jug than go to heaven," when he died in 1998, the Little Brown Jug itself, won by Strike Out in 1972, was placed at the head of his casket.
For links to other harness horse information and biographies, see also: