A crowd of about 350 people turned out to honor trainers Jack Van Berg and Ron McAnally at The Grand Del Mar hotel in Del Mar, Calif. Aug 9 to benefit the Edwin J. Gregson Foundation.
Retired jockey Chris McCarron, who rode Alysheba for Van Berg and John Henry for McAnally, traveled from Kentucky to pay tribute to his good friends, and Dr. Jack Robbins and Mace Siegel joined McCarron in speaking about the two Hall of Famers.
McCarron told tales of how he and Van Berg accidentally worked Alysheba 1 3/8 miles instead of 1 1/4 miles because both forgot that Hollywood Park was 1 1/8 miles in circumference. McCarron also admitted he once worked Paseana five-eighths instead of three-quarters because he and McAnally had failed to confer at the barn before the work.
The former rider then thanked them, saying, “I can put my kids through school because of the horses they put me on.”
Robbins and Siegel also spoke of Van Berg and McAnally’s accomplishments.
“I want to honor a different side of these two people,” said Siegel. “These are people who keep giving back to the world and giving back to charity. It is time we started helping each other instead of being selfish, or this game is going to disappear.”
The Gregson Foundation is one of the prime examples of a charity within the racing industry. Much of the funds raised from the dinner will go toward college scholarships for children of backstretch employees.
Van Berg and McAnally singled out Jenine Sahadi, the Gregson Foundation president, for her work on behalf of the foundation. They also thanked their employees through the years.
“You can’t do this by yourself,” said Van Berg.
McAnally remembered the late trainer Eddie Gregson, for whom the foundation is named.
“Eddie was a very good friend of mine,” said McAnally. “He was just a great person.”
Van Berg also took time to congratulate Zenyatta’s team—owners Jerry and Ann Moss, trainer John Shirreffs, and racing manager Dottie Ingordo-Shirreffs.
“Thank you for sharing her with all the public,” Van Berg said. “This is what racing is all about—letting the public share with a mare like her.”