Churchill Downs Inc. announced Thursday that the company had initiated a formal succession-planning process for the position of president and chief executive officer, which is currently held by Thomas H. Meeker. The announcement was made by Carl F. Pollard, chairman of CDI's board of directors.
Meeker's current employment contract with CDI will expire in March 2007. Meeker plans to retire from the company and step down from its board of directors upon the expiration of his employment contract, but may retire sooner in the event the succession-planning process yields a suitable candidate earlier in the process.
"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 Pollard. "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 sport. We are profoundly grateful for the significant contributions Tom has made to CDI and to horse racing. "With Tom's scheduled retirement now on the horizon, it is appropriate for the board of directors to initiate a succession-planning process," Pollard continued. "In the coming weeks, a subcommittee of the board will work with an executive search firm to identify and interview qualified candidates with the intent of naming a successor before March 2007. Starting this process now will give the board ample time to find the right person to lead CDI in the future, while ensuring a seamless transition for Tom's successor. "Tom is extremely supportive of this process and has worked with the company to amend his employment contract to give both himself and the company more flexibility as the succession-planning process advances." Pollard said the board's search committee will consider both internal and external candidates and will reserve further public comment on the search process until the company is ready to name Meeker's successor. Meeker has served as the company's president and chief executive officer since October 1984. He has been a member of CDI's board of directors since June 1995.