James H. Ballard Sr., 62, a race horse owner and breeder and a retired construction company officer, died of cancer Tuesday at Arlington Hospital.

In 1959, Mr. Ballard joined the old Florence and Offutt Real Estate and Construction Co. in Arlington as an assistant bookkeeper. When the company split in 1961, he became a vice president and treasurer of the newly formed Dittmar Co. (formerly the Offutt Construction Co.). He retired in 1974 to devote full time to his hobby of breeding horses.

He formed his own company, the James H. Ballard Stables, and became part owner of about 17 horses, which he ran at the Bowie, Pimlico, Laurel and Timonium race tracks in Maryland.

Mr. Ballard was born in Owensboro, Ky., and came to Falls Church with his family as an infant. He graduated from St. James Catholic High School in Falls Church and from the Benjamin Franklin University business school in Washington.

He was a member of the Arlington Knights of Columbus, the Alhambra Society and the Maryland Horseman's Association.

Survivors include his wife, the former Sally B. Barksdale, of the home in Arlington: two sons, James H. Jr., of Fairfax, and D. Michael, of Arlington; six daughters, Mary E. Postma, of Chicago, Ruth B. Wall, of Falls Church, Margaret (Bebe), of Shasta, Calif., Catherine M. Coggins, of Harrisonburg, Va., Teresa A. Hayward, of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and Rosemary Gray, of Maruland; four brothers, J. Vernon, Paul V., and Richard, all of Falls Church, and Bernard, of McLean; a sister, Gladys Frank, of Arlington, and five grandchildren.