Churchill Downs Inc. announced Nov. 18 that after 11 years at the helm of Churchill Downs Racetrack, Kevin Flanery will retire as the track’s president at the end of this year. In a release distributed by CDI, Flanery and the company did not state a reason for his departure.
“It has been an honor to work with a team that constantly strives to protect the legacy of the Kentucky Derby (G1) while creating experiences that resonate in our modern world. The ability of my Churchill Downs team to listen to our fans and our horsemen has informed every move we have made to enrich the Kentucky Derby for future generations,” said Flanery. “Having grown up in the area surrounding Churchill Downs racetrack, I have a deep appreciation for what this place means to so many in our industry and our community. I will forever be grateful to the horsemen, the community, and our guests who allowed me the opportunity to impact the rich and vibrant history of Churchill Downs and the unique culture of the neighborhood. I look forward to spending more time with my family and grandchildren and visiting colleagues and friends at Churchill Downs as a fan.”
Flanery’s 15-year tenure at CDI began in December 2005 as vice president of national public affairs. He was named senior vice president of national public affairs and communications in March 2008 before being named the 13th president of Churchill Downs racetrack and a senior vice president of CDI in July 2009. As president of the track, Flanery led a number of significant capital investments that greatly improved the live racing experience, including permanent track lighting and the Big Board, the track’s massive outside television. He also spearheaded major expansion projects including the Paddock Plaza, The Mansion, the Starting Gate Suites and Rooftop Lounge, the Colonnade, the new infield gate, and, most recently in 2020, the completion of the equine medical center and Matt Winn’s Steakhouse.
Flanery came to Churchill Downs following a number of key positions in government and private business, including secretary of the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet, deputy secretary of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, and president of Hagan Properties.
“Kevin has been a pivotal leader in the growth and evolution of Churchill Downs,” said Bill Carstanjen, CEO of CDI, “not only at the racetrack, but across the company. His focus on bold capital investments and unmatched fan experiences has had a direct and enduring impact on the success of the Kentucky Derby, and his leadership has navigated Churchill Downs racetrack through many unexpected challenges, not the least of which has been the unforeseen circumstances of 2020. Having worked side by side with Kevin over the last 15 years, I offer sincere gratitude for his friendship and his leadership, and we wish him all the best in his retirement. His has been an important and impactful chapter in the history of Churchill Downs Racetrack.”
CDI will immediately begin the search to fill the role of president, the company said. Bill Mudd, the president and chief operating officer of CDI, will act as interim president of the track until a successor is named.