Churchill searches for top execs

Jan 10, 2006 4:21 AM

Churchill Downs Inc. (CHDN) will be keeping executive search firms busy over the next few months as the company attempts to fill the positions of top-level people who have left or will be leaving in the near future.

Biggest post to fill will be that of president and CEO that will be vacant when Tom Meeker reaches the end of his employment contract in March 2007. Meeker plans to retire from the company and step down from its board of directors, positions he has held since October 1984.

Another major executive change involves the presidency of Arlington Park where veteran-racing exec Cliff Goodrich has held sway for nearly three years. Goodrich announced that he was resigning in order to return to the West Coast. Prior to taking the Arlington job, Goodrich was president and COO of Santa Anita Park and later CEO of the California Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Foundation Inc.

There’s also a vacancy of a lesser note. Tobey Roush, who was director of sales and licensing for Churchill Downs Inc., has jumped ship to become senior director of licensing for Licensing Partners International LLC, the firm that recently signed a five-year deal to manage the branded product-licensing program for Churchill.

But replacing Meeker will be the company’s toughest assignment. That’s why the search announcement was made so early, the company said.

"The position of president and chief executive officer for Churchill Downs Incorporated is one of vital importance to both our company and the horse racing industry," said Carl F. Pollard, chairman of the company’s board of directors.

"For more than two decades, Tom Meeker has worked with the board of directors to grow CDI’s holdings, develop its assets and increase shareholder value, while helping advance a number of crucial industry initiatives that will continue to benefit our sports," he said.

In addition to running Churchill’s extensive operations, Meeker has been major force in the thoroughbred racing industry, having served on a number of committees seeking to enhance the sport and as president of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations (TRA) in the early 1990’s.