R.E. “Bob” Thomas
1999 Greyhound Hall of Fame Inductee
Bob Thomas began working with his uncle, F.L. Brunts, in the Greyhound business in 1934. At the concession stand in West Palm Beach in 1951 he met his future wife, Clara, who teamed with Bob to raise, train and race Greyhounds.
They won their first stake race in 1956 with Sadder, who won the first Southland Derby at the track’s present site.
The kennel produced three All-Americans: Lucky Bannon in 1969, Max Delaney in 1971 and Cape Capri in 1974. Lucky Bannon won 18 races in 22 starts, setting the Arkansas Course record twice. He won the Taunton Derby, ran second in the Wonderland Derby and received the second highest number of votes for All-America honors that year.
Max Delaney set the Southland all-time win record with 26 and Cape Capri won back-to-back Derby Lane season championships.
Among the many other top racers that led the kennel to numerous championships and stake victories were Derby Lane Distance Champion Rosetta Rose, St. Petersburg Derby Champions T.Hee and Solly Orio (who also was the Southland Countdown winner), Kechi Kid, Milo Tate, Grant Township, Katy Val, Vanessa Raven, Bill Pete, Lance Retter, Lustre Val and Mac Leroy.
Top breeding lines include offspring from Brunts’ Lahoma Judy, Tikla, Valoretta and Lucky Bannon.
Thomas also contributed his time and effort to industry organizations and committees throughout his years in the business. He served as an National Greyhound Association board member from 1967 through 1970 and again from 1974 through 1983. He was Association president in 1978 and 1979 and was vice president in 1974 and 1975. He served as president of the Florida Greyhound Association, worked on various committees and supported the Greyhound Hall of Fame.
Bob and Clara Thomas were selected as the first instructors for the American Greyhound Council’s first Trainers Apprentice School. Both were honored at the National Greyhound Association Banquet in 1986 at the NGA’s Fall Meet.
The R.E. Thomas Kennel raced at St. Petersburg for 36 years, at Southland for 27 years and at Wonderland for 20 years. Thomas retired in 1989, selling his farm in Abilene, Ks., and the kennels at Derby Lane and Southland. He still regularly attends the National Meets and sponsors an occasional stake at the NGA Track Stakes.