Diversification helped Churchill, CEO says

At Churchill Downs Inc.'s annual shareholder meeting Thursday in Louisville, newly elected board chairman and chief executive Bob Evans outlined how diversification has cushioned racing's recession for the company.

Since 2006, when 85 percent of Churchill's revenue came from racing, the company has shifted focus to other forms of gambling and to online betting, he said. By 2010, racing was only about half of net revenue and total earnings, which continued to grow, according to figures released by Churchill.

Evans said there is still plenty of room at the top, where quality racing such as the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks dominates. Those events have growing attendance, handle and share of total U.S. handle, he said.

Carl Pollard, who announced his retirement in March, officially stepped down from his post as chairman on Thursday.