The plane isn't full, so Van Berg beds down across three empty seats and promptly falls asleep.
The plane lands in Cincinnati at 6 a.m., and Jack's feeling frisky. A Delta passenger agent is standing in the terminal, reeling off gate numbers for connecting flights to a line of people. Van Berg pulls his cap over his eyes, gets in line and when his turn comes, mutters to the agent, "Baggage compartment, please." The Delta man, Dave Cobb, is momentarily startled, then he laughs. "Hey, Jack," he cries, "your horse won again. That's great."
"I fly Delta so much," Van Berg explains later, "that I've become friends with the ground crew. They all love horse racing, so I get them passes to the track, and they help me get on flights."
As he limps into the main terminal, Anne Yocam is waiting with a cup of hot coffee. Her husband, Art, manages Van Berg's broodmares in Goshen. Anne got up at 2:30 a.m. so she would be in time to meet his flight. "I guess I'm a good coach," says Van Berg. "I've always been able to get good people to work for me."
Van Berg gets behind the wheel for the two-hour drive to the farm, but stops in La Grange for homemade Belgian waffles. It's 4:30 a.m. California time, but Jack always keeps his watch on Kentucky time. "When you're in California, time gets away from you when you're training, and I don't want to miss entering horses here or in New York."
At 8 a.m. he's at the farm, sitting in his stable office, which overlooks a dirt training track and a 2�-mile grass track. Van Berg designed the training center and helped build it. This is the nerve center of the Van Berg operation. Rrrriiing. Rrrriiing. Rrrriiing. The phones here ring more than anywhere else. There are 11 different lines into the training center. A walkie-talkie crackles away on Van Berg's desk as his secretary announces the incoming calls.
Between calls he phones his assistants. The first call is to Mark Wallerstedt, in Hot Springs. "Hello, Mark," he says. "Who you got in? Is that right? The horse didn't run good yesterday? Yeah, yeah." Another line rings. "Hold on a minute, Mark. Hello. Yeah, yeah. Right. Oh my god. O.K., Linda, I got to get off the telephone to get him back. What time will he be back from his meeting? O.K., I'll call him at 10:30 his time. Bye-bye. Hello, Mark? Yeah, well, you're just gonna have to see, you know? Yeah, yeah. How did the colt look? You gonna call me back with entries, or you got them there now?" The phone rings. "Hold on a minute. Hello. Yeah. O.K. I don't know. I'll have to see after I get done with that luncheon with the governor, because then I'm going to New York. O.K. Bye." Another phone rings. "Hello, Harry. No, I've been in Europe. I made some strong connections over there. I trained 60 head yesterday morning. I like the track. Yeah, I'll have a lot of good horses for sale. I don't know. Well, we gotta see. There's plenty of races for him. Yeah, yeah. O.K., buddy." The phone rings. "Hello. Yeah, Marilyn. Pretty good. Yeah, I went out with a whole set of horses there yesterday."
On and on it goes, until just before noon, when Van Berg dashes into the house to change clothes for a fund-raising luncheon in Louisville hosted by Kentucky governor Wallace Wilkinson. On his way through the hall of the farmhouse, he punches in a Waylon Jennings tune on a huge jukebox and asks Anne to call his friend Smiley at Delta. "See if he can get me on the last flight to Albany tonight. And ask him if he can get me a cheap fare," he says. Twenty minutes later he's showered and changed and on his way to Louisville.
When he returns to Goshen two hours later, he and Art sit down at the dining room table and discuss upcoming horse matings. Then he goes over to the trailer office, reviews the payroll and processes 743 W-2 tax forms with his staff. "That's how many people worked for me last year," Van Berg says.