09/30/2015 4:05PM

Longtime Arlington executive Bill Thayer dies


Bill Thayer, a longtime racing executive, mainly at Arlington Park, and generally a well known figure throughout the American racing industry, died Tuesday in Rolling Meadows, Ill. Thayer was 89.

Born in Santa Fe, N.M., Thayer grew up an orphan but graduated from Creighton College in Omaha, Neb. He got interested in racing before leaving college, and began working in the sport shortly after graduation, catching on as a jockey’s agent.

Thayer went to work for owner Marje Everett at Arlington in the 1960s, was dismissed from his post and went to work at Finger Lakes for a time, but returned to Arlington and resumed his duties there, logging 49 years at the track under several regimes.

Tom Morgan, a longtime jockey agent in Chicago, called Thayer “an insider’s insider.”

“He had a pretty good education, but he got to hanging around the racetracks,” said trainer Dave Kassen, a longtime friend of Thayer’s. “I first met him at Latonia in 1959. He represented a number of jocks back then, worked as a stable agent, and ended up getting into management. He climbed the ladder at Arlington and kind of half-ran the place for awhile. Everyone went to Bill for answers to everything. He knew a lot of people all over the country.”

Thayer’s funeral will be held 11 a.m. Friday. at St. Colette’s in Rolling Meadows. There will be a visitation between 9and 10:30 at Meadows Funeral Home.

Vince More than 1 year ago
I met Bill Thayer, when I first started out as a jockey agent in New York in 1960.We remained friends since that day and we would run across each others path from time to time either in New York and in California. He would do anything for you and he was a special friend in my lifetime as well as so many friends he has in California. Bill was in California last year visiting with us at Santa Anita and his health was failing at that time.We knew then Bill might not becoming back to see us at Santa Anita. Rest in peace Bill And I pray you are looking down on us that loved you as you loved us.Vince De Gregory,Jr. jockey agent
Lynne Snierson More than 1 year ago
Bill was a wonderful man and a mentor to so many of us in the industry, and he was especially gracious to me when I joined Arlington's management team and all through my tenure there. He will be missed by his many friends across the continent. RIP, Bill, and I'm sure you're watching the races from on high with your good buddy Bobby Frankel.