The Dynasty Races Forward
Van Berg Racing
"The thing is, Jack never looked down on you but you always looked up to him." - Jay Hovdey, The Daily Racing Form
One of the highlights of my college years was spending two summers with now deceased, Hall of Fame racehorse trainer, Jack Van Berg. While horse racing fans remember a racing icon who called everyone friend those close to him remember the kind hearted, no-nonsense teacher who always reminded you there was no detail or job too small to ignore.
Fast forward 20 years, and the GV team is now working with Tom, Jack's son, as he returns from a 10-year training hiatus to define the 3rd generation of Van Berg Racing. Obviously, our work as publicists is to promote this group as they win races, and hopefully another Derby, but every story needs a hook and in this case perpetuating Jack's legacy of horsemanship, friendship and his respect for racing is our beacon.
Some of our favorite factoids from this Columbus, NE family:
Generation 1: Grandpa Marion - trained and owned most of his racehorses at a 21% win rate. Inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1970, Grandpa Van was the leading trainer in the United States for races won from 1960-1970.
Generation 2: JVB - Also, a member of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, Jack won 9 national trainer titles from 1968 to 1986 along with earning an Eclipse Award for Leading Trainer in 1984. And let's not forget the Kentucky Derby and Breeders Cup Classic he won with Alysheba.
Generation 3: Tom - As Tom's passion for racehorses has been renewed over the last year, he has been reminded how much he loves being around the horses and in the barn. His focus is building syndicates that will bring new people to horse racing and find ways to educate his owners on the history of the sport and these majestic animals.
And we can't forget Sammy Almaraz, who has been running the shedrow for Van Berg Racing since 1980. There is no one better at keeping horses sound and happy.
The rumor is true. The GV team owns part Van Berg Racing's racehorse, "Hot Balls". The Jockey Club wouldn't approve Hot Balls as his official racing name but Jacks Fire Balls made the cut, so add this one to your list of horses to watch. And yes, he has his own hashtag...#ballz