Alex Waldrop is stepping down as president of Churchill Downs racetrack to fill a new position as the chief lobbying strategist for Churchill Downs Inc.
Effective immediately, Waldrop, 45, becomes the corporation's senior vice president of public affairs. He will be in charge of coordinating legislative strategies in each of the five states where the company owns racetracks--Kentucky, California, Florida, Illinois, and Indiana.
"The greatest challenges faced by our company today involve governmental regulations and issues at the state and national level that could have a wide-ranging impact on our future," said Tom Meeker, Churchill Downs' president and chief executive officer. "Alex is uniquely qualified to take a senior leadership role in this area, which is vital to the stability and long-term growth of our industry."
Earlier this year, Churchill Downs was a key player in efforts to put gaming machines at racetracks in Kentucky and Indiana. The Indiana initiative passed successfully through the legislature but was vetoed by Gov. Frank O'Bannon. The Kentucky legislation only passed through a House committee and never considered by either the full House or Senate.
Waldrop said alterative gaming is an important issue but only one of several the Churchill Downs' family of six racetracks face across the country. Opportunities and obstacles abound with deregulation, in-home wagering, and workers compensation insurance.
"There was no one before who could take the broad view on these issues," Waldrop said. "It is taking lessons we have learned in one state and applying it to another. I will not be a lobbyist, though. I will be working with the racetrack presidents. State regulation is inherently local in flavor and so requires a local approach."
Waldrop also will be involved in political issues on the federal level.
John Long, executive vice president and chief operating officer, will oversee day-to-day operations at Churchill Downs until Waldrop's replacement is named. Jim Gates, vice president of administration, has temporarily assumed the general manager duties at the Louisville track.
Waldrop, who earned a law degree from the University of Kentucky in 1985, joined Churchill Downs as its general counsel in 1992. As general counsel, he was intimately involved in governmental affairs. He became
Churchill Downs' general manger in 1999 and later promoted as president. Waldrop was in charge of the company's entire Kentucky operation, which includes Ellis Park and the Trackside Louisville off-track betting parlor, formerly known as Sports Spectrum.