One interested in making a little money at Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie’s thoroughbred season this year should take a long look at the horses entered by trainer Jack Van Berg.
Van Berg has 63 years in the business and is returning to Grand Prairie after making an initial trip last year.
He’ll have 36 horses for the meet, which starts Thursday and continues through July 19.
Post time Thursday is 6:35 p.m., highlighted by the 6 1/2-long furlong $50,000 Premier Stakes.
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Van Berg’s best pupil to this point was Alysheba, who vied for the Triple Crown in 1987 with triumphs at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
Though he fell short at the Belmont, Alysheba returned to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1988.
At 78, retirement is not an option for Van Berg, whose father is Hall of Fame trainer Marion Van Berg.
“I want to win another Derby,” Van Berg said.
What kind of horse was Alysheba? He doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He was a good horse. He was sound. Never had a pimple on him. He was as clean legged as they come. He stayed the same as the day as he was born.
One of the biggest aspects of training a horse is managing their personality. What was Alysheba’s personality? Horses are just like human beings. They all have personalities. [Groomer] John Cherry was a key to that horse’s success. He knew if you hit that horse, he’d fight you like a man. John was very quiet around him. Sometimes you have to correct horses. Alysheba, you could tell him what to do and he’d do it. You better not whack him because you’d be in for a fight.
Is there a secret to uncovering a Triple Crown-caliber horse? All these big shots are buying these horses for half-million, a million dollars. If you’re a good horseman, you don’t have to buy that horse. You don’t have to have top of the line, though you do need some pedigree behind them. Alysheba … he was like a farmer come to town in overalls.
As a horseman, what is one tip you’d give to bettors? I like to look at their eyes. My dad, he’d look them dead in the eyes. A human being is the same way: If you look in their eyes, and their eyes are sleepy and tired they’re not very productive. A horse is the same way.
This is your second season at Lone Star Park. What is your impression of the place? I love it. I love the stalls, the grandstand is nice and the people are friendly. And lots of young people out there.
Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie
- Gates open: 5 p.m.
- First live race: 6:35 p.m. $50,000 Premiere Stakes
- General admission: $5
- General parking: Free
Notable: United States Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze will ride in the Premiere Stakes. Baze holds the record for the most wins in North American horse racing history. … Friday, Lone Star Music Series kicks off with Eli Young Band performing after the last live race. Concerts are free with $5 general admission before 8 p.m. and $20 thereafter … Saturday, 19th running of the $50,000 Wayne Hanks Memorial Stakes followed by Chris Young, who takes the stage after the last live race. … Sunday, gates open at 11:30 a.m. and first live race is at 1:30 p.m. Sunday Brunch in the Silks Dining Terraces. It’s also senior citizens/military discount day. Free admission for guests aged 62 or older with valid ID and all military personnel with a valid ID card. — lonestarpark.com.