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Oaklawn's Cella dies; track boss recalled as 'bigger-than-life' figure

By Bill Bowden

This article was published December 7, 2017 at 4:30 a.m.

in-an-announcement-in-hot-springs-in-february-1998-oaklawn-president-charles-cella-announces-americas-million-dollar-dare-a-1-million-prize-for-the-winner-of-the-oaklawn-handicap-the-race-on-april-4-of-that-year-was-won-by-precocity-a-bob-baffert-horse-cella-helped-introduce-a-number-of-innovations-that-have-helped-draw-many-top-thoroughbreds-as-well-as-racing-fans-to-the-track

In an announcement in Hot Springs in February 1998, Oaklawn President Charles Cella announces “America’s Million Dollar Dare,” a $1 million prize for the winner of the Oaklawn Handicap. The race, on April 4 of that year, was won by Precocity, a Bob Baffert horse. Cella helped introduce a number of innovations that have helped draw many top thoroughbreds as well as racing fans to the track.

Charles Cella, president of the Oaklawn Jockey Club in Hot Springs, is shown in this file photo.

An icon of Arkansas thoroughbred racing for half a century died Wednesday.

Charles Cella, president of the Oaklawn Jockey Club in Hot Springs, is shown in this file photo.

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