The Great Jack Van Berg Passes Away at 81

Profile Picture: D.S. Williamson

D.S. Williamson

January 6th, 2018

National Racing Hall of Fame Trainer Jack Van Berg passed away this past Dec. 28 at the age of 81. Per BloodHorse, he had been hospitalized at Baptist Medical Center in Little Rock, Arkansas, due to complications from caner.

Van Berg made it into the hall of fame in 1985. That was a 2 full years before his  most famous horse, Alysheba, won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Van Berg passes ranking 4th on the all-time win list for North American trainers. Jack won $6,523 races. His horses earned more than $85 million.

Alysheba - Alysheba, a son of Alydar, was easily the most accomplished thoroughbred that Jack Van
Berg ever trained. Alysheba finished his career with 11 wins, 8 second place, and 2 third place finishes from 26 starts. He earned an incredible $6,679,242 during his career.

That amount translates to $13,973,854 in 2017 dollars. American Pharoah earned over $8.65 million. California Chrome earned over $14.75 million. Arrogate earned over $17 million. Most of Arrogate's earnings came when he won the 2017 Pegasus World Cup.

That tells you how amazing Alysheba was. Check out 4 of Alysheba's biggest races.

1988 Breeders' Cup Classic - Alysheba

1987 Kentucky Derby - Alysheba

1987 Preakness Stakes - Alysheba

1987 Breeders' Cup Classic - Alysheba 2nd

This has to be one of the most memorable Breeders' Cup Classics of all time. Alysheba flat out laid it on the line against Ferdinand, a monster of a horse. The ill-fated Ferdinand had won the 1987 Kentucky Derby for the great Charlie Wittingham. Ferdinand looked like a loser in the middle of the stretch. That's what the greats do. They keep plugging away. Alysheba exacted revenge over Ferdinand in the 1988 Santa Anita Handicap.

1984 Preakness Stakes - Gate Dancer

Before Alysheba won the 1987 Preakness Stakes, Jack Van Berg had saddled Gate Dancer to a win in the 1984 Preakness Stakes. Gate Dancer was one heck of a racehorse. He was good enough to deny Swale a Triple Crown in 1984. Swale had won the Kentucky Derby. The son of Seattle Slew went on to win the Belmont Stakes after finishing 7th in the Preakness. Gate Dancer would go on to win the Grade 1 Super Derby.

Jack Van Berg also won the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup Invitational with Vilsak. He won the Grade 1 John A. Morris with Fit to Scout. He won the Grade 3 San Diego Handicap with Blumin Affair. Blumin Affair finished 3rd in the 1994 Kentucky Derby. He also finished third in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic in 1995.

We're going to miss you, Jack Van Berg.