Be Careful What You Wish For

Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg has popped up twice in my RSS feed this week. Today Canterbury Live published this promotion for an upcoming book signing by Van Berg, in which several of his industry observations are quoted, such as…

“If you read the Daily Racing Form now you’ll see all these goofy conditions that just confuse the average racing fan,” he said. “And people don’t want to bet on short fields, five or six horses. They want to win something for their dollar. And I’d like to see us go back to the times when fillies ran against the boys.”

Hard to argue with “goofy conditions” and the dislike of 5-6 horse fields. And I know I’d like to see fillies run in open company more often. And then there was this…

Perhaps what Van Berg finds most annoying, in racing and in society at large, is what he terms lack of accountability. “People get bad tests all the time and nothing happens. They just keep racing, even end up in the Hall of Fame,” he added.


Earlier in the week Paulick reported that Van Berg ended up being held accountable for something else entirely. Apparently Keeneland made an unauthorized, or at least questionably authorized, transfer of funds from an owner’s account to Van Berg.

The case dates back to 2005, when John Chlomos completed a Buyer Registration Form and deposited $87,500 with Keeneland in anticipation of purchasing horses at the 2005 November breeding stock sale. […]

Before the 2005 November sale took place, however, Van Berg on two separate occasions contacted a Keeneland employee, Sherry Sheets, asking that the money in question be wired to the trainer’s Van Berg Management Corporation “in order for Mr. Chlomos to claim a horse at Santa Anita racetrack.” Transfers of $30,000 and $57,500 were executed by Keeneland to Van Berg Management Corporation “without notice to or express authority of Chlomos,” court documents reveal.

You can read the whole saga over at Paulick’s. But the bottom line was this….

Ishmael [the judge], therefore, ruled in favor of Chlomos, saying Keeneland owes him $87,500, plus 8 percent interest since 2005 and legal fees.

The judge also ruled on a third-party complaint filed by Keeneland against Van Berg individually and Van Berg Management Corporation “for any and all amounts which Keeneland is required to pay to John Chlomos.”

Not exactly the kind of accountability he was talking about, but accountability nonetheless. Here’s hoping we see more of the other kind too.