12/04/2009 1:00AM

Willmot leaving a Woodbine post

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David Willmot, chairman and chief executive officer of the Woodbine Entertainment Group, has announced his intention to step down as CEO at the company's next annual general meeting on June 4, 2010.

Nick Eaves, the company's president, will succeed Willmot in the CEO position, which involves all the day-to-day concerns of Woodbine operations.

Eaves, 41, took over the president's role from Willmot late in 2006 and will retain that title, along with that of chief operating officer.

The announcements were made following a meeting of WEG's board of directors here Friday.

"When I came in here, 15 years ago, it was going to be for three years," said the 59-year-old Willmot, who was elected president and CEO in 1995 and chairman in 2001.

"We need a CEO with real fire in his belly. I'm a fiery person, but it's in the company's best interests to pass the torch to someone else.

"It's good for the company to follow flow and transition, by promotion between management ranks.

"Our board has complete faith in Nick. We know he'll do a good job."

Inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2005, Willmot also has been honored with the E.P. Taylor Award, by the Jockey Club of Canada; the Mint Julep Cup, by the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society; and the Galbreath Award, for outstanding entrepreneurship in the equine industry while serving in a variety of roles for leading industry groups.

Willmot and his late father, D.G. "Bud" Willmot, developed Kinghaven Farm into a major player in the racing and breeding industries.