Louisville Magazine

APR 2012

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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Alysheba (4) after passing Bet Twice (9). Guts REASONS WE LOVE DERBY No. 118: The memory of Alysheba's fortitude. CHURCHILL DOWNS INC./KINETIC CORP. PHOTO 4.12 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE [67] G &Then lory 138 Twenty-five years ago we bore witness to possibly the greatest feat of courage and athleticism in the history of the Kentucky Derby. BY RICK CUSHING In the spring of 1986, trainer Jack Van Berg recently told me, he informed folks around Goshen, Ky., that he had a colt who would win the 1987 Kentucky Derby, a lanky bay son of Alydar named Alysheba. "I knew he was special right from the start," said Van Berg, 75, a Hall of Fame trainer and son of another, the late Marion Van Berg. "After we broke him, he'd be with a set of five or six young horses galloping around my train- ing track (in Skylight, Ky., now operated by trainer Dale Romans), and he'd be in front by a 16th of a mile before the set had gone a mile. He wasn't being asked; he was in a normal gallop. He just had that big, long, smooth stride. He stuck out like a diamond in a rock pile." Alysheba's path to the 113th Derby was far from smooth, however. He won only one of seven starts at age two, a maiden race at Turfway Park. He did finish second or third four times in stakes, and he earned $359,486, but he also earned the reputation of a colt who lacked heart because several times he was in position to win but failed to sustain his charge. "I just thought I hadn't drilled him hard enough," Van Berg told me. ยป

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