Vernon Niven has left Churchill Downs Inc. for personal reasons, the company announced Feb. 12. Niven, who since October 2006 has served as executive vice president of CDI and president of Twinspires.com, will vacate his posts in June after the conclusion of the 2009 Triple Crown.
“I absolutely love what I’ve been doing at Twinspires.com and Churchill Downs, but unexpected family obligations require that my family and I return to our home in Florida,” Niven said in a news release. “We discussed various options under which I would continue with Churchill Downs and Twinspires.com, but it’s neither realistic nor fair to the business and to our employees …to try to do that from Florida.”
CDI president and chief executive officer Bob Evans said Niven was the first person he hired when Twinspires was conceived in late 2006. “His accomplishments with our company are many,” Evans said in the release. “He built the Twinspires.com team, led the site’s launch in 2007, and he managed the integration of the AmericaTab and Bloodstock Research Information Systems acquisitions.”
Niven is credited by Evans in developing the “no fee” model for wagering customers, the Web site's conditional wagering platform, and the TwinSpires “Leaderboard” contest. Evans said Niven also launched the Thoroughbred industry’s first Internet protocol TV network, TwinSpires TV, and was responsible for CDI's investment in the HRTV network.
CDI said a search will be conducted to identify Niven’s successor. Both internal and external candidates will be considered.