Columbus Native Jack Van Berg Dies at 81

Columbus, Nebraska native Jack Van Berg has died.  He was 81.

The Hall of Fame horse trainer died today in a Little Rock, Arkansas hospital, according to a spokeswoman for Oaklawn Park, where Van Berg had relocated his training base after leaving Southern California in 2013.  No cause was given.

According to the Omaha World-Herald, Van Berg was the leading trainer at the Ak-Sar-Ben racetrack in Omaha from 1959-77 and again in 1984.

In 1987, he trained Alysheba to victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.  That horse’s try for the 1987 Triple Crown came up short with a fourth-place finish in the Belmont.

Van Berg ranks fourth all-time among trainers in North America with 6,523 victories, according to Equibase.  He had career purse earnings of almost $86 million.