Tuesday, January 02, 2007Contact: Keith Chamblin
+1 (859) 621-1120
New head for US racing body

Alex Waldrop, former president of Churchill Downs, was appointed president and chief executive officer of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) during a special Board meeting held Wednesday, the NTRA announced today. In addition, Turfway Park President Robert Elliston was appointed executive chairman of the NTRA.

"Alex brings to the table intellect, political savvy, hands on racing experience and expertise from within and outside our industry," said Craig Fravel, who has served as NTRA chairman throughout 2006. "He is well equipped to lead the NTRA during its next phase as the organization seeks to implement a number of important strategic priorities on behalf of the industry."

"I am honored that the NTRA Board of Directors has selected me to lead the organization and I am eager to join the management team to build on its many accomplishments," Waldrop said. "With Thoroughbred racing confronting many challenges, the NTRA's leadership role has never been more important.

"The NTRA will succeed in moving the industry forward by concentrating on issues of paramount importance to its members - racing and wagering integrity, advocacy in Washington and a heightened industry profile," Waldrop continued. "Issue management, including exploring ways to improve account wagering economics, also will be a priority. I look forward to undergoing a careful review of all of our programs and commitments in the near future."

Waldrop, 50, currently is a partner at the Kentucky-based law firm of Wyatt, Tarrant and Combs and chairs the firm's equine, gaming and entertainment practice group. Its clients include the NTRA and Churchill Downs Incorporated. He will assume his new duties on January 15. Waldrop replaces current NTRA interim CEO Greg Avioli, who will continue as interim CEO of Breeders' Cup Limited.

Prior to returning to Wyatt, Tarrant and Combs, Waldrop spent more than 12 years with Churchill Downs, first as its General Counsel, then as President of Churchill Downs Racetrack and most recently as the Senior Vice President of Public Affairs for Churchill Downs Incorporated.

Elliston has been president and CEO of Turfway Park since June 1999 and will continue to hold those positions while serving as the NTRA's first executive chairman. He has served on the NTRA board since 2004. An avid horse racing enthusiast his entire adult life, Elliston was put in charge of Turfway Park's operations shortly after the track was purchased by a partnership comprised of Keeneland Association, Harrah's Entertainment and GTECH Corporation.

"The appointment of an executive chairman is becoming more and more commonplace as companies and organizations seek a clear delineation between Board and management responsibilities," Fravel said. "Like Alex, Bob brings to the NTRA a wealth of expertise from within and outside the industry. He will serve as a direct conduit between management and the full board and be available to support management whenever called upon to move the industry forward."

"I look forward to supporting Alex and the management team as they implement the organization's strategic priorities," said Elliston. "The 15-member board is very engaged and very enthusiastic about the NTRA's future."

Before joining Turfway Park, Elliston was vice president of commercial lending for US Bank, North America, for seven years. Additionally, Elliston worked for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce from 1986 to 1992, where he served as vice president of economic and community development, representing the Chamber before the Kentucky General Assembly and the United States Congress.