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"Classic" Jack Van Berg on the Breeders' Cup

Loren Hebel-Osborne

By Loren Hebel-Osborne

September 20, 2013

"The Breeders’ Cup Experience is like the Super Bowl, The World Series and the Stanley Cup all rolled into one," said Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg, on his cell phone atop his pony Indio early this morning on the track at Hollywood Park. "You’ve got the best teams in Thoroughbred racing: top jockeys, top trainers and owners, and full fields of some of the best horses in the World – there’s no other Championship like it!"

Jack’s enthusiasm and optimism for the sport is as strong as it was during his glory days when these early September mornings were all focused on the details of preparing Alysheba for his run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.  Jack saddled Alysheba for two Classics; the first was in the same year he won the Kentucky Derby in 1987.  Alysheba was narrowly defeated by a nose in his first bid by the 1986 Kentucky Derby winner, Ferdinand.  The following  Breeders’ Cup in 1988, Alysheba would not be denied  as he claimed victory on the  Churchill Downs track where the photo of him winning in the dark, with only the lights of the photo finish camera, are the event’s iconic moment.

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Jack is Back

Jack Van Berg will once again be a part of Breeders’ Cup but this time as a featured industry celebrity and special guest handicapper for Breeders’ Cup Experiences.  Breeders’ Cup Experiences is a VIP travel package offered to racing fans across the globe and allows them access and exposure to the sport of kings that was previously only attainable by race sponsorship or having a horse run in the race as an entrant. Packages also offer customers a one-stop shopping experience where hotel, tickets and exclusive hospitality lounges are all bundled and available to purchase with only a single phone call.

"I will be on-hand to personally field questions, sign autographs, take photos and interact with the guests on the race day.  There’s no better way to fully appreciate the Breeders’ Cup than to be able to talk to people who have been there and even won it!  Chris McCarron will also be on hand and he’s going to give some insight on the jockeys that will be invaluable.  We hope to find some winners and have these folks cash some tickets.  But even if they don’t, they will have a memory of something really special for the rest of their lives," Jack added.

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While Jack’s early prognostication gives the advantage to the California horses, he also alludes to several contenders from the East Coast who may be getting good at just the right time.

"Game on Dude is training as good as any horse I’ve ever seen, but Fort Larned came in here and stole the show last year so you can’t discount him.  And, if horses like Royal Delta, Princess of Sylmar and Wise Dan stay healthy and make their runs out here – well, you just won’t see better racing anywhere!"

alysheba in dark

Jack has been touring the United States with his new book titled "Jack, From Grit to Glory."  The book is authored by television horse racing analyst and race-caller, Chris Kotulak.  The book is a true account of the life and accomplishments of trainer Jack Van Berg. 

"Jack lived through a golden age in racing. He trained champions, broke records and became a Hall of Fame trainer.  His story just had to be told.  It’s been such an honor to be the author for a living legend," remarked Chris Kotulak. "One of the most remarkable things about touring with Jack has been meeting all the people that Jack mentored – not including the ones mentioned in the book.  It seems everyone has a "story about Jack" they want to tell: I could have added a thousand pages!"

Meet Jack at the 2013 Breeders' Cup

Don’t miss your chance to meet Jack Van Berg in person and have your own "story about Jack" at this year’s 30th Anniversary of the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita.


Attend the Breeders' Cup