01/06/2005 1:00AM

Cellas, Oaklawn get Merit Eclipse


Oaklawn Park and the Cella family, which has owned and operated Oaklawn since the Arkansas track opened in 1905, have been selected to receive the 2004 Eclipse Award of Merit, given in recognition of lifetime achievement in the racing industry, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced on Thursday.

In 1904, brothers Louis and Charles Cella oversaw construction of Oaklawn Park, which this year celebrated its 100th anniversary by implementing a $5 million bonus for any horse who won the Rebel Stakes, Arkansas Derby and the Kentucky Derby. The bonus was claimed by Smarty Jones in the biggest payday in Thorough-bred racing history.

Oaklawn is currently owned and run by Charles J. Cella, the grandson of Charles Cella.