Updated on 09/16/2011 7:52AM

New post at Churchill for Waldrop

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Alex Waldrop, who for nearly three years has been president and general manager of Churchill Downs racetrack, has been moved into the newly created position of senior vice president for public affairs of Churchill Downs Inc., it was announced Thursday.

A search is on for a new track president. John Long, chief operating officer of CDI, will oversee day-to-day operations at the track, while Jim Gates will be interim general manager.

Waldrop, 45, has worked at Churchill since 1992, when he was hired as general counsel. He was named general manager in January 1999, then president nine months later. His new duties will consist primarily of lobbying on the company's behalf for legal initiatives, such as alternative gaming in Kentucky and the other states in which CDI owns racetracks.

Before working for Churchill, Waldrop obtained his law degree from the University of Kentucky in 1985, then worked for seven years for Kentucky's largest law firm, Wyatt, Tarrant and Combs.

Although the official spin from Churchill was that the move for Waldrop was a promotion, several track officials said Waldrop accepted the move with great reluctance. He relished the role of track president, and as Long said in regard to the upcoming recruitment of new candidates for the position: "I think this will be a fairly easy recruit." Running a racetrack that serves as home of the Kentucky Derby, he added, "is as good as it gets."

Tom Meeker, president of CDI, the corporation that oversees Churchill, Hollywood Park, Calder, and Arlington Park among other racetracks, made the official announcement of the personnel change.

Meeker said in a Thursday release that it had become increasingly clear in recent months that CDI needed one person to oversee government contacts in all of the states where it does business, as well as in Washington, D.C. He added that Waldrop "has a thorough understanding of the legislative process and is respected by key players in the political arena."

Gates, 35, has risen through CDI's ranks in recent years, most recently serving as vice president for administration of the racetrack.