Losing/Being Disqualified from Kentucky Derby NOT New for Nebraskans; say co-producers of new documentary film BORN TO REIN


Losing/Being Disqualified from Kentucky Derby NOT New for Nebraskans; say co-producers of new documentary film BORN TO REIN

Full-length film features interview with Hall of Fame horseman and newly-named 2019 Kentucky Derby trainer of Country House: Bill Mott

SCOTTSBLUFF, NE – May 16, 2019 – As the results from the controversial ending of the 145th Kentucky Derby continue to unfold, one factor remains certain…history always has and always will be “in the making.” With the Preakness Stakes less than 48 hours away, rooting for a possible 14th Triple Crown winner is no longer even an option during this 100-Anniversary Year of Sir Barton winning what would become known as the Triple Crown races – the Kentucky DerbyPreakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes – in 1919.

Amidst the *disqualification of Maximum Security, owned by Gary and Mary West who still have business and family connections in Omaha, Nebraska, in the 145th Running of Roses on Saturday, May 4th, a near-miss loss or a disqualification for interference in a Graded 1 stakes race, like the Kentucky Derby, is nothing new, at least not for two native Nebraskans and National Hall of Fame trainers, John Nerud and Jack Van Berg!

In 1957, the John Nerud-trained Gallant Man loss the Kentucky Derby by a nose when his jockey misjudged the finish line and stood up in his irons too early.  In the 1984 Kentucky Derby, the Jack Van Berg-trained Gate Dancer placed (3rd) but was disqualified and placed 4th after a complaint was lodged against him. Later that same year, Gate Dancer was knocked out of second place in the inaugural running of the Breeders’ Cup Classic — again because he was disqualified.

Gate Dancer came to Louisville, Ky., for the 1984 Kentucky Derby after winning his two-year-old racing debut at Ak-Sar-Ben Racetrack in Omaha, Nebraska. In the Nov. 14, 2014 edition of the BloodHorse, columnist Steve Haskin shared with readers, “You Want Disrespect? I Give You Gate Dancer;” in which he stated that Gate Dancer was “arguably the most disrespected and under-appreciated horse in the past 30 years. If there was ever a stewards’ decision that should have created a controversy it was the disqualification of Gate Dancer from second in the first ever Breeders’ Cup Classic.”

So, how do, not ONE, but TWO native NEBRASKANS — John Nerud and Jack Van Berg — recover from such devastating and high profile losses in their careers??

“Well,” says Jody Lamp and Melody Dobson, co-producers of the new documentary film, BORN TO REIN, “we would encourage any proverbial or casual horse racing fan to come see the film and why we commemorate the accomplishments of some great Nebraska-born and raised horsemen and how they handled adversity in equally high-profile situations as the 2019 Kentucky Derby.”

BORN TO REIN pays tribute to the legends of America’s Oldest Sport — native-Nebraskans and National Hall of Fame trainers: father-and-son team — Marion Van Berg and Jack Van Berg of Columbus; and John Nerud of Minatare. The documentary film features historic film footage and images of some of America’s thoroughbred Horse Racing’s Triple Crown races – the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.

The timing of its release coincides with the 100th Anniversary of America’s First Triple Crown Winner, Sir Barton, who after retiring from racing also spent time in Nebraska, as a U.S. Army Remount Service Stallion at Fort Robinson near Crawford, NE.

“Most Nebraskans have never heard the name of John Nerud or realize that National Hall of Fame trainers like Bob Baffert and D.Wayne Lukas credit his influence in the industry for their success,” says Lamp, who was raised near his birthplace at the Nerud family homestead near Lake Minatare in western Nebraska. “Mr. Nerud certainly has been not recognized in any ‘Notable Nebraskan’ narratives prior to us working on the film, so we hope others will enjoy seeing historic footage of his history and learn something new about their state of Nebraska.”

Born To Rein also features the journey of a young, Aurora, Nebraskan native, Marion Van Berg, who was the first Nebraskan ever to be inducted into the Nebraska Racing Hall of Fame; and the National Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., in 1970. His son, Jack Van Berg, born and raised in Columbus, would be become the first trainer ever to reach a national career high of 5,000 wins; and set a record with 496 wins in one year.

Bill Mott, who subsequently won his first Kentucky Derby with the 65-1 long shot Country House,

was interviewed for BORN TO REIN and shared stories about working with Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg, before holding his own head trainer’s license and opening a public stable in 1978. A native of South Dakota, Mott won his first Triple Crown race in 2010 when Drosselmeyer won the Belmont Stakes. He has been honored with the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer in 1995, 1996 and 2011.  Bitt Mott was inducted into the National Hall of Fame in 1998.

  • Jack Van Berg was inducted into the National Hall of Fame in 1985.
  • John Nerud was inducted into the National Hall of Fame in 1972.

Lamp and Dobson say BORN TO REIN honors and acknowledges for the first time on film the connections, contributions and lives and careers of Nerud and the Van Bergs and the how their horsemanship impacted and continues to influence the national thoroughbred industry today.

To book the BORN TO REIN documentary film and the co-producers/filmmakers for interviews or the film for your next event, contact the producers at office@BornToRein.com or call 406.698.9675. As always, we thank our partner sponsors and advertisers for all their support.

*What makes the recent disqualification of Maximum Security, ridden by jockey Luis Saez, unique is that it was the first time a presumably first place finisher was disqualified for an on-track infraction and taken down to 17th place; while the second-place finisher was subsequently named the new winner.  In this year’s case,  the 65-1 long-shot, Country House trained by first-time Kentucky Derby winner and Hall of Fame Trainer, Bill Mott. Saez received and has appealed a 15-day suspension for his ride in the Kentucky Derby.

Fast Facts about the Film and Filmmakers:

  • Research for Born To Rein began in 2009 after Lamp discovered a son of Sir Barton’s was sold at the May 1946 horse sale at Billings Livestock Commission in Billings, MT.
  • Lamp & Dobson launched the American Doorstop Project on July 1, 2015; and launched film production for Born To Rein at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., in Nov. 2017.
  • Lamp & Dobson continued filming at Churchill Downs during the 2018 Kentucky Derby and captured the 13th Triple Crown Winner – Justify – and his Hall of Fame Jockey, Mike Smith, leading the field of competitors around the first backstretch turn to win the first leg of the Triple Crown races.
  • Lamp & Dobson wrote a book – A History of Nebraska Agriculture: A Life Worth Living and launched it in Grand Island, NE on June 7, 2017 – Jack Van Berg’s 80th
  • Other National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame inductees interviewed for BORN TO REIN:
    • Bob Baffert, Two-Time Triple Crown Winning Trainer
    • Carl Nafzger, Trainer of Kentucky Derby winners, Unbridled and Street Sense
    • Wayne Lukas, Trainer of 24 Thoroughbred Champions
    • Bill Mott, Three-Time Eclipse Award Outstanding Trainer; and new 2019 Kentucky Derby winner.
    • Gary Stevens, Youngest jockey ever to surpass $100 million in career earnings
    • Pat Day, Jockey ranking fourth in all-time career victories with 8,803 wins


Born To Rein:

Born To Rein commemorates the lives and accomplishments of native Nebraskans and National Hall of Fame Horsemen, John A. Nerud of Minatare, and father-and-son Marion and Jack Van Berg of Columbus/Grand Island. Nerud, a Navy veteran and one of America’s most accomplished and revered thoroughbred horse trainers and breeders, co- founded the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Classic. He was inducted into the National Museum of Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1972. Marion Van Berg was the nation’s leading owner in racing victories 14 times and was the first Nebraskan inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1970. Like his father, Jack Van Berg set records for the most wins. His best horse, Alysheba, won the 1987 Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic, and was Horse of the Year in 1988.