Jack Van Berg, who walked the barns of Southern California race tracks for more than 40 years and remained haunted by the Triple Crown he never won, died Wednesday in Little Rock, Ark., from complications of cancer. He was 81.
Van Berg, always adorned in a cowboy hat befitting his upbringing in rural Nebraska, is most known for being the trainer of Alysheba. The colt won the 1987 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and was one race — the Belmont Stakes — from Triple Crown immortality.
“It was obvious my horse could gallop faster than most of those horses could run,” Van Berg told The Times’ Bill Plaschke on the 10-year anniversary of the Belmont loss.
However, Bet Twice,...