Charles J. Cella,
the St. Louis businessman who's been the longtime president of the Oaklawn Jockey Club
in Hot Springs, has died at 81.
He died of complications of Parkinson's disease,
according to his sons John and Louis Cella.
Cella oversaw the survival of Oakalwn
and growth into the casino business as other thoroughbred race tracks in the country suffered. He was a leading figure in thoroughbred racing and raced horses himself.
The family issued a statement:
“At this time of great sadness for our family, we find comfort in knowing that one of the great joys in his life was seeing Oaklawn develop into a national treasure with such a significant economic impact on Arkansas. In addition to the holidays with his family, his favorite time of the year was always the Oaklawn racing season with fans, horsemen and staff.”
His businesses included real estate and financial interests.