At 5 a.m., Van Berg arrives at Hollywood Park. Rrrriiing. Rrrriiing. People are phoning from all over the country to congratulate him on his victory in the Strub. He spends all morning on the training track. At 10 he leaves to take Helen to the airport, then returns to train some more horses, then goes over to his hotel suite to continue his interview with the TV people and to pack for a trip to England. Eddie DeBartolo is building a new racetrack, Remington Park, in Oklahoma and wants Van Berg to go to Newmarket to evaluate something called Equitrack, an artificial surface being used on the training track there.
At 3:30 p.m., without so much as a catnap, Van Berg heads for LAX, checks his bag, and moves to a bank of pay phones. After making a few calls, he hits the airport gift shop, buys five Louis L'Amour paperbacks, two candy bars, some newspapers and a package of teriyaki-flavored beef jerky. "This better be good," he says. "It cost enough."
On the plane to London, Van Berg goes right to sleep. He does wake up for dinner. "That's the best airplane meal I ever had," he says. "Hell, even the coffee's good."
The plane arrives 34 minutes early. At 12:03 p.m., London time, Van Berg is on his way to Newmarket, 100 miles to the north. After checking in at the Moat Hotel in Newmarket, he makes three or four calls to the U.S., meets the general manager of Remington Park, wolfs down a pub lunch, and settles in to discuss Equitrack with the company's representative, who produces an itinerary comparable to that of a visiting statesman.
First stop, the training course at Newmarket, where Van Berg grabs a handful of the artificial dirt surface, rubs it between his fingers and fires off questions. The all-weather surface, he is informed, will not freeze even if temperatures plunge to 30� below zero. Van Berg is impressed. The Brits are even more impressed. Van Berg's energy level is awesome. Between 3 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., Jack tours two famous stud farms and admires some of England's finest racehorses, meets with a local vet to discuss the effect of the track surface on horse's legs, stops at a Wimpy Bar to order hot dogs for the entire entourage and has cocktails with Luca Cumani, one of England's leading trainers. Anywhere he spies a phone, Van Berg gets on the line to call assistants back home.
Van Berg is awake at 5:30 a.m. and in the saddle by seven, first taking a brisk gallop over the Equitrack surface and then leading a "lot" of horses onto the heath for the morning workouts. By 8:45 a.m. he's packed and a car takes him to Heathrow Airport, where he boards a 12:20 p.m. flight to California. He sleeps most of the way.
The plane arrives in Los Angeles 25 minutes early, and Van Berg is steamed because there's no one to meet him. He calls his assistant, Tim O'Daniel, who's in the Jeep on his way to the airport. "Why didn't you check the airlines and find out I'd be early?" Van Berg fumes. O'Daniel apologizes and says he can be there in 10 minutes. "Don't bother," says Van Berg. "I'll take a cab." Back at the hotel suite, he spends three hours with the TV crew, then heads for the Palm restaurant and dinner with an owner who has flown in from Michigan. All the waiters greet him by name. After the meal the manager comes over and says, "Let me buy you an after-dinner drink, Jack. I didn't go to the track today, so I only lost $150 on your horse—instead of the $600 I would have lost. So I'm $450 ahead." Van Berg laughs, but declines the drink. He has a plane to catch.
Back at the hotel he books a seat on the 11:05 p.m. flight to Cincinnati. He travels with one hanging bag for his clothes and two briefcases stuffed with condition books and paperwork. At LAX a skycap calls out, "Hey, Jack. How you doin'?" Van Berg is limping as he walks through the terminal. He has a bum knee, and all the travel has taken its toll. At the gate he makes a quick call to Helen, then reads a Louis L'Amour. "I was in the middle of a gunfight when my [ London] plane landed in L.A.," he says.