Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg has returned to Churchill Downs for the 2016 Spring Meet with high hopes for his stable of 30 horses following a successful winter at Oaklawn Park.
“We got some decent horses,” Van Berg said. “We claimed some and got a good stable put together and got some really good owners. I got confidence in my stable, my help and myself. I wouldn’t trade with anyone else. I haven’t forgotten anything.”
Van Berg is most well-known for training 1987 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Alysheba. While he doesn’t have horses of such high caliber, he does have faith that his stable has what it takes to help him have a successful meet.
“I had good owners and I claimed horses and put a good stable together,” Van Berg said. “I don’t believe in buying $300,000 or $500,000 horses. If you’re a good horseman, you can pick horses out. You could go to the sale and get $500,000 for one. A blind man could get a horse for that kind of money.”
Throughout his training career, Van Berg has served as a mentor for well-known trainers such as fellow Hall of Famer Bill Mott, as well as Tom Amoss, Frank Brothers and Wayne Catalano.
“I tell them everything and show them everything that I do,” Van Berg said. “I had the best teacher in the world in my father [Marion Van Berg]; he was a genius with horses. He led the country for 14 years and he taught me well, so I figured that I would be a failure if I didn’t pass that on to other young people.
“I taught them to keep their horses sound. As my dad always said, ‘If you don’t give them time, they’ll make you take time.’ You have to work on them. You have to keep them happy and keep them sound.”
One horse that Van Berg expressed excitement about is One King’s Man, who he claimed from Joe Sharp on May 4.
“We claimed him for $50,000 last week and we think that the horse has a lot of ability,” Van Berg said.
From Churchill Downs news release