Churchill Downs President Kevin Flanery stepping down

Churchill Downs President Kevin Flanery stepping down
Kevin Flanery announced Wednesday he plans to retire as president of Churchill Downs at the end of this year. (WAVE 3 News file photo)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Kevin Flanery announced Wednesday he plans to retire as president of Churchill Downs at the end of this year.

Flanery started at Churchill Downs in 2005 as vice president of national public affairs. He was promoted to senior vice president of national public affairs and communications in 2008 before being named the track’s 13th president the following year.

“It has been an honor to work with a team that constantly strives to protect the legacy of the Kentucky Derby while creating experiences that resonate in our modern world,” Flanery said in a statement. “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.”

Flanery oversaw a massive growth period at Churchill, particularly the track’s live racing experience that included permanent track lighting and the Big Board.

He also led several expansion projects including the Paddock Plaza, The Mansion, the Starting Gate Suites and Rooftop Lounge, the Colonnade, the new Infield Gate and, just this year, the completion of the equine medical center and Matt Winn’s Steakhouse.

“Kevin has been a pivotal leader in the growth and evolution of Churchill Downs,” said Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs Inc. “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.”

Prior to his Churchill Downs tenure, Flanery held several key positions in private business and government, including secretary of the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet, deputy secretary of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and president of Hagan Properties.

“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,” Flanery said. “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.”

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