03/29/2006 1:00AM

Churchill CEO search begins


Churchill Downs Inc. has begun interviewing candidates for a new chief executive officer, but the process has not resulted yet in a "clearly identifiable candidate," Churchill's current CEO, Tom Meeker, said Wednesday.

Meeker, Churchill's CEO since 1984, announced in January that he would retire when his current contract expires in March 2007. During an informal discussion with reporters Wednesday, Meeker said that Churchill is looking at candidates both inside and outside the company. The search is being led by Heidrick & Struggles, a consulting and executive search company.

Meeker hinted that the next chief executive would likely come from outside the company, stressing that any chief executive would need to understand how to capitalize on emerging foreign markets in order to position Churchill for the future.

"It's expanding exponentially, when you think about China and the Pacific Rim," Meeker said. "So whoever comes in here, takes the helm, has to at least understand this dynamic, probably even more so than understanding racing in general."