HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — Oaklawn’s 2020 season of horseracing kicked off Friday and before the first race, THV11’s Craig O’Neill spoke exclusively to Oaklawn’s President and Owner, Louis Cella.

Cella is the third generation of his family to own the track, dating all the way back to 1916. O’Neill asked Cella to share what never gets old about horseracing.

“Everyone on race day should go to the rail and see the start of a race,” Cella said. “It's thundering, it's so exciting to see the horses. You wonder how these jockeys, these great athletes, manage to hold on to the horse going 40 miles an hour out of the gate. That will never ever get old and it is so exciting.”

Amid headlines of places like Santa Anita in California losing horses to injury and West Memphis’ Southland Casino Racing phasing out greyhound racing over the next few years, O’Neill asked for Cella’s opinion on what kind of weight that puts on Oaklawn’s future.

“We have a great future,” he responded. “The reason we have a great future is that we worry about Oaklawn. We don’t worry about dog racing or Southland. They have their own issues, its their own industry. We don’t worry about what happens on the east coast. At Oaklawn, we focus on Oaklawn. We all are in agreement, the sport is neat, it is great, it has promise. So let’s do the right thing.”

Cella points to the way the track’s supervisor and consultants work diligently to test and fix any issues with the “cushion,” the top four to six inches of the track, and the “base” underneath every year as a reason for Oaklawn’s success and reliability. He admits, accidents do happen, but that they’re extremely rare in Hot Springs.

“We are a very strong, shining star and that’s very exciting for Arkansas,” Cella said. “That’s really what it's all about. It's great for the southern region, it's great for the state of Arkansas. You know what? We’re doing a darn good thing here and that’s really neat.”

You can read more about Oaklawn’s on-going expansion, and this year’s racing schedule HERE.

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