Oaklawn Park

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Meritorious Character

By James E. Bassett III -- When one thinks of Charles J. Cella, a myriad of descriptions flash by. "Indescribable" comes easily to mind, overshadowed by "indomitable" or perhaps "indestructible," followed by "unpredictable" or almost surely "unpersuadable." But lest we overlook the obvious, certainly it would be "unforgettable."

Cella Pays Up; Chapmans Get Their Bonus

Oaklawn Park owner Charles Cella traveled from Arkansas to Pennsylvania Monday to hand-deliver a $5 million check to Roy and Pat Chapman, owners of Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Smarty Jones.

Peace Rules Even-Money for Oaklawn Handicap

Last year trainer Bobby Frankel saddled Medaglia d' Oro to win the Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II). This year Frankel hopes Peace Rules, who is listed as even money on the morning-line, can emulate his stablemate's success in Saturday's $500,000 race going 1 1/8-miles.

Purse Hike, New HBPA Contract for Oaklawn

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Oaklawn Park will increase purses for all non-stakes races by $1,500 through closing day, April 10, Eric Jackson, the general manager of Oaklawn Park, announced Saturday.

Record 152 Horses Nominated to Arkansas Derby

Someday Farm's Smarty Jones, unbeaten in five career starts, heads a record list of 152 nominations for the $1-million Arkansas Derby (gr. II) April 10 at Oaklawn Park. The 1 1/8-mile stakes is the highlight of the eighth and final day of the Racing Festival of the South, and also closing day of the live meet at the Hot Springs track.

New Orleans Rivals May Meet in Oaklawn Handicap

Edmund Gann's Peace Rules and Mr. and Mrs. William Warren Jr's Saint Liam, the one-two finishers in the Feb. 29 New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) at Fair Grounds, and the past two Arkansas Derby (gr. II) winners--Private Emblem (2002) and Sir Cherokee (2003)--head a list of 17 horses nominated for the $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) April 3.

'Cat' Hopes to Pounce Again in Oaklawn BC Stakes

My Trusty Cat, impressive winner of a local allowance test in her first start of 2004, hopes to continue the momentum in the $200,000 Oaklawn Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. III) for fillies and mares at Oaklawn Park. Among the challengers in the March 13 event is Spectacular Lisa, two-for-two in stakes this year.

Frankel Shipping Four For Oaklawn Festival of the South

Trainer Bobby Frankel is shipping a quartet of runners for Oaklawn Park's Racing Festival of South, including Peace Rules, who will look to defend the trainer's Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) title. Frankel won the 2003 Oaklawn Handicap with Medaglia d'Oro, who is pointed toward the March 27 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I).

Sir Cherokee Seems OK, But Trainer Not Pleased

Sir Cherokee, knocked off stride in a roughly run New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) Feb. 29 at Fair Grounds, returned to his Oaklawn Park base after having suffered body soreness and superficial cuts. But his trainer, Mike Tomlinson, isn't particularly happy with the events of the day.

Over 100 Early-Bird Nominees Still Eligible for Oaklawn Bonus

Read the Footnotes, Minister Eric, and Tapit top a record roster of 140 Early Bird nominees for the Rebel and Arkansas Derby (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park. The Rebel and Arkansas Derby are the first two legs of Oaklawn's $5-million three race bonus with the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) being the final leg.

Crafty Shaw, Docent Expected for Saturday's Essex

The Essex Handicap (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park Saturday is expected to feature two previous winners of the 1 1/16-mile contest -- Crafty Shaw and Maysville Slew -- as well as 2002 Arkansas Derby (gr. II) winner Private Emblem, who is undefeated at Oaklawn Park.

Oaklawn Enjoys Strong Opening Weekend

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Oaklawn Park hosted 62,982 patrons during its opening three days, making it one of the biggest opening weekends in recent memory for the Hot Springs, Ark. racetrack.

Centennial (Cella)bration: Oaklawn Turns 100

Brainstorming for ideas to celebrate Oaklawn Park's centennial in 2004, track owner Charles Cella turned into the $6-million man late last summer. At the ripe old age of 67, Cella stunned his colleagues when he said he was going to offer a $5-million bonus to any 3-year-old that swept Oaklawn's Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby (gr. II) and then won the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). He also raised the purse of the Arkansas Derby to $1 million.

Racetrack Cooperative Says Tracks Want to Join

The Southern Racing Cooperative, currently in a dispute with the Churchill Downs Simulcast Network over fees charged for signals, said Nov. 17 it has been approached by 10 racetracks that want to join the organization.

Oaklawn Completes Track Base Project

Oaklawn Park has completed the overhaul of its racetrack, which included rebuilding the base and renovating the racing surface. Horses are scheduled to arrive at the Arkansas track around Dec. 1.

Instant Racing Gets OK for Use at Wyoming Facilities

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Instant Racing, launched in Arkansas three years ago, was approved for use at pari-mutuel facilities by the Wyoming Racing Commission July 11. The devices, which resemble video lottery terminals but are linked to pari-mutuel pools, will first be installed at an off-track betting parlor operated by Wyoming Downs.

Death of Jockey Chris Valovich Ruled Suicide

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Arkansas native Chris Valovich, who rose up from a leading apprentice rider at Oaklawn Park in 1983 to garner more than 2,000 wins in 20 years, was cremated June 24 in Arizona after he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound four days earlier in Phoenix.

Instant Racing Approved for Oregon Racetracks

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Instant Racing, a pari-mutuel video lottery game currently offered at racetracks in Arkansas, has been approved by the Oregon Racing Commission for use at the state's racetracks. Oregon is the second state to approve the devices.

NTRA $1 Million Voucher Unclaimed at Oaklawn

No one will collect the big prize in the National Thoroughbred Racing Association $1 million mystery voucher promotion this year. The winner was from the Oaklawn Park mailing list, but apparently wasn't among the crowd of 61,752 at the Hot Springs, Ark. track Saturday afternoon.

Mystery Voucher Worth $1M Uncashed at Oaklawn

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A voucher worth $1 million was mailed to someone on the Oaklawn Park mailing list for the April 12 National Thoroughbred Racing Association Mystery Mutuel Voucher promotion. But no one cashed.

Azeri Tops Apple Blossom Nominees

Nominations have closed for the four races at Oaklawn Park during its Racing Festival of the South. Medaglia d'Oro and Congaree are nominated to the Oaklawn Handicap.

Oaklawn Brings Back Fifth Season Stakes

Oaklawn officials have announced that the purse for the Fifth Season Stakes, for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/6 miles on April 9, has been raised to $100,000 guaranteed. The race was originally scheduled at $50,000 guaranteed.

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