When COVID cases first appeared in March 2020, St. Louis businessman Louis Cella knew his family’s casino and racetrack in Hot Springs, Arkansas, drew at least 10,000 people daily during its racing season.
Then-Gov. Asa Hutchinson was considering how to use the state’s power to contain the spread of a deadly new virus. Cella called Hutchinson directly.
“I’m going to take one issue off your plate,” he said. Cella said he would shut down the Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort and the racetrack.
Within a week or so later, however, he realized that all the thoroughbred horses on their grounds still needed to be seen by the vet and still required daily exercise and grooming.