Ivan Thomas

Inducted 1983

RACING

Ivan Thomas was as comfortable in the stables at Centennial Race Track as he was in the board rooms.

That’s what made the unassuming native of Fort Meade, S.D., so popular during his 14 years as general manager of Colorado’s major horse racing facility. And his popularity with bettors, breeders and jockeys alike enabled him to gain the respect his sport needed after it was legalized in the state.

Thomas was born into a family of cavalry officers and claimed he was “horse bit” from the first time a cavalry steed poked its head into the boy’s bedroom window.

He began as racing secretary at Centennial in 1950, and after a brief absence to serve as racing secretary at Arlington Downs and Washington Park in Chicago; Thomas took over as general manager at Centennial in 1953.

Through the next 14 years, Thomas was always likely to leave his office in order to find the $2 bettors, to ask what they thought of his track.

But behind his quiet manner, Thomas was a determined man. When the South Platte flood of 1965 nearly destroyed the track, Thomas put crews to work round the clock to restore the facility within a month.

The Littleton Chamber of Commerce selected Thomas as its Man of the Year in 1961.

Ivan Thomas

Ivan Thomas was as comfortable in the stables at Centennial Race Track as he was in the board rooms.