Racing world is mourning the death this week of Charles J. Cella
December 07, 2017 9:20 AM
by Robert Mann
The racing world is mourning the death this week of Charles J. Cella, a major figure in American Thoroughbred racing for over a half century and longtime President and Chairman of the Board of the Oaklawn Jockey Club in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Cella, 81, at home in St. Louis, succumbed to complications from Parkinson's disease. He was well known for his love of racing, his creativity and his devotion to Oaklawn where he turned a flagging traditional mid-winter meeting without a turf course into one of the highlights of the racing calendar.
Cella took over the racetrack, a longtime family business, in 1968 and under his leadership made it into one of the largest and most respected racing centers in America.
Cella also served as President of Southwestern Enterprises, Inc. and Southern Real Estate and Financial Company. He owned and raced numerous notable champions, including 1995 Breeders' Cup Turf winner Northern Spur.
Survivors include his two sons and a daughter, Harriet Marshall, and 8 grandchildren. The family is expected to carry on business as usual at Cella’s beloved Oaklawn.