Charles J. Cella (born August 27, 1936 in St. Louis, Missouri) is president of Southern Real Estate and Financial Company, an executive in the American Thoroughbred horse racing industry, and a racehorse owner.
Raised in St. Louis, where he still makes his home, Cella studied at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, graduating with a B.A. degree in political science. He was a nationally ranked squash player and is a Life Member of the United States Squash Racquets Association.
The Southern Real Estate and Financial Company owns commercial properties in St. Louis and St. Louis County, including a handful of office buildings; the land at Kiener Plaza, which is leased long-term to the city of St. Louis; and several shopping centers: the Market Place and Clayprice Shopping Center in Ladue and the Shops at Clarkson Corner in Chesterfield. It also owns Busch's Grove, long a restaurant and more recently a grocery store.
Cella is a member of the third generation to head the Cella family's Oaklawn Jockey Club Inc., which owns and operates Oaklawn Park Race Track racetrack in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He took over as its president in 1968 on the death of his father, John G. Cella. John Cella had also owned Fort Erie Racetrack in Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada, but sold it in the 1950s to E. P. Taylor. An innovator, Charles J. Cella led Oaklawn Park Race Track to even greater success, including growth unequaled by any other U.S. racing facility. In 2005, the Cella family and Oaklawn Park received the Eclipse Award of Merit.
Oaklawn Park is a member track with the Thoroughbred Racing Association; Cella served as the association's president in 1975–76.
Cella owns racehorses, most notably Northern Spur, who was a colt racing in France in 1994, when Cella purchased him from his Japanese owner, Tomohiro Wada. Conditioned in the U.S. by Racing Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally, Northern Spur won the 1995 Breeders' Cup Turf.
Cella is chairman of the Knowlton Awards for Excellence at St. Louis' Barnes Hospital. He is an honorary trustee of the Schepens Eye Research Institute, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School and the world's largest independent eye research institute.
In 1999, he opened Truffles restaurant in Ladue, a St. Louis suburb.