Horses drinking beer while being entertained by a goat. Just another day at the O’Callaghan barn

Ruben is a popular 218-pound goat that entertains the 15 horses in Carl O'Callaghan's barn. Facebook photo.

HOLLYWOOD PARK — He has ponies, homing pigeons and a popular goat named Ruben at his barn. All of his 15 Thoroughbred racehorses drink a pint of Guinness in the morning and two pints at night. And after Kinsale King won the 2010 Grade I Golden Shaheen in Dubai last March, the gelding drank a whole bottle of champagne at the barn party. No, Carl O’Callaghan isn’t orchestrating a three-ring circus, it just seems that way.

“It’s like Old Mac Donald’s Farm, my barn,” O’Callaghan said on Frankie Lovato’s radio show on Sunday.

O’Callaghan came to the United State from Ireland in 1990 when he was just 14 years old and began working with horses in upstate New York. He started galloping Thoroughbreds for trainer Susan Duncan then moved onto John Kimmel and finally Todd Pletcher. He’s been training on his own for 2-1/2 years and is based at Hollywood Park.

“I knew horses are what I wanted to do. I followed it. I put my head down and just kept going forward,” he told Lovato. The interview starts at 15:08 and ends at 35:51.

Kinsale King, who was one of O’Callaghan’s first horses, is currently doing well at Hollywood Park.

O’Callaghan also acts as an exercise rider and works out many the Thoroughbreds that he trains. This helps him attract top jockeys to ride his runners on race day.

O’Callaghan prefers Garrett Gomez, but jockeys of his stature are usually booked by large barns full of high-priced horses. But O’Callaghan said jockey agents trust him when he says his runner is doing well because O’Callaghan is the one on board for the workout. And, therefore, agents for top riders are more likely to agree to put their jockeys on O’Callaghan’s horses, he said. 

He told Lovato that his barn has a “lovely 2-year-old” coming up and Leaving New York is a promising older horse.

In Ireland, it’s common for trainers to put Guinness in their horses feed because it draws the animal to the food. Otherwise, many horses avoid eating, O’Callaghan said. Other local trainers, like John Sherriffs, do the same thing.

“Many trainers put a little beer in the horse’s feed,” O’Callaghan said.

Lovato mentioned that it may also help to sedate some of the more hyperactive young colts. O’Callaghan agreed to a point but added “I’ve got some orangutans in there and it doesn’t knock them down at all.”

Ruben is the barn’s goat. When O’Callaghan bought him he was 35 pounds, but now he fattened up to 218. The goat is a real character who bounces from stall to stall, playing with all of the Thoroughbreds.

“He’s everybody’s favorite. All of the horses like him,” said O’Callaghan, who may bring Ruben to Dubai if Kinsale King goes back.

O’Callaghan ships his horses from Hollywood Park to Santa Anita when racing is there, or south to Del Mar in the summer. Because the Santa Anita racetrack is favoring early speed, this week O’Callaghan sent four horses to Golden Gate.”I’m going there just to get away from the dirt because I don’t think my horses have enough speed to keep up with those horses across town,” he said.

Results, Saturday, Santa Anita Race 6 — lost $200

David Flores and Consulado cruised to an easy victory over $1 million yearling Welter Weight

I was looking forward to betting against morning line favorite #8 Welter Weight, who was a first-time starter that was purchased for $1 million at the Keeneland September sale in 2010. Trained by Steve Asmussen, this colt had two extraordinary 6-furlong workouts: the first stopped the clock at 1:11-and-1/5th seconds on Dec. 28 and the second was run in 1:11 flat on Dec. 21.

Very likely Welter Weight is going to be a good horse that earns a lot of money for owner Stonestreet Stables & Bolton. But my records show that horses running in their first races at less than 2-to-1 are very bad wagers. Some of the information I keep includes the prices paid for unraced horses, which is found in the past performances of the Daily Racing Form. Debuting runners that were bought for $500,000 or more ran 52 times in Southern California at less than 20-to-1, yet only won 10 races. If you bet them all, you got back just 48 cents for every $1 wagered. And it was just as bad for those less than 2-to-1.

Moving on, I whittled the field down to two contenders: #4 Consulado, who ran strongly last time, and the Bob Baffert-trained #11 Bobby Flay.

In addition to Welter Weight, five other first-time starters were in this 11-horse field. Many of them had fast workouts and they could have been any kind, so I planned to watch the board for betting action. If any of them went off between 10/1 and 19/1, I would place small wagers on them.

When watching the replay of Consulado’s first race on Dec. 17, I saw that his 81 Beyer Speed Figure was earned while going three-paths wide on the turn. Adjusting for the lost ground, I eased the speed figure up to 83, which was just one point away from the 84 median Beyer Speed Figure that wins these types of races. I determined that Consulado was obviously solid and hoped to get a gift of a price of 5-to-2 when Welter Weight was heavily bet.

Then I turned to Bobby Flay.  Baffert does excellent work with 3-year-old horses in maiden special weight races, however his colt needed significant improvement to win. He was in the same Dec. 17 race that Consulado came out of, but Bobby Flay ran just a 74 speed figure.

In the pari-mutuel betting pool, the crowd made Welter Weight 8-to-5, but Consulado was also 8-to-5. So, Welter Weight was being hammered, but Consulado did not hold any value for me.

This scenario came about because the public was betting the other first-time starters like they had no hope. The odds on those five horses ranged from 27-to-1 on Carlsbad Mountain to 84-to-1 on Malibu Affair.

In the running of the race, Consulado eased to the early lead, was never challenged and glided home under a hand ride. The 7-and-1/4th length victory looked impressive, yet earned just an 86 Beyer.

Welter Weight was second after getting stuck behind a wall of horses at the top of the stretch leading to a situation where jockey Julien Leparoux couldn’t find a running lane until the race was almost over.

At the betting window, I needed 5/2 on Consulado, but passed because his odds were too low. None of the first timers fell into my betting range, but my $200 bet on Bobby Flay did kick in at 9/2.

To watch a replay of this race go to

1 1 Carlsbad Mountain (KY) Talamo J Headley B 27.10 4
2 2 Sea to Sky (NY) Smith M Hendricks D 34.50 6
3 3 Only the Gold (KY) Espinoza V Mandella R 20.20 3
4 4 Consulado (KY) Flores D Puype M 1.60 1
5 5 Congrats Ski (KY) Gomez G Walsh K 9.50 8
6 6 Symphonic Cat (KY) Quinonez A Headley B 39.10 10
7 7 Atticlude (KY) Santiago Reyes C Caceres, Jr. A 92.60 7
8 8 Welter Weight (KY) Leparoux J Asmussen S 1.70 2
9 9 Declan (KY) Gutierrez M Kruljac J 54.10 9
10 10 Malibu Affair (KY) Maldonado E Biancone P 84.20 11
11 11 Bobby Flay (KY) Bejarano R Baffert B 4.50 5
Pgm Win Place Show
4 $5.20 $3.00 $2.40
8 $3.20 $3.00
3 $5.40
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $8.20 (4-8)
$1.00 Pick 3 paid $746.30 (3-11-4)
$1.00 Superfecta paid $551.60 (4-8-3-1)
$1.00 Trifecta paid $81.50 (4-8-3)
$2.00 Daily Double paid $101.00 (11-4)
Fractional Times
21.53, 44.11, 1:08.48, 1:15.00

Results, Saturday, Santa Anita Race 1 — lost $100

Jockey Joel Rosario dominated Saturday's first race with Scream Queen

Scanning the past performances for these 10 runners, I noticed that none of these fillies ever had the lead at any point from the quarter mile forward. So, with no natural speed horse in the lineup, I expected a cavalry charge from the gate as the jockeys tried to establish themselves as the front runner.

But Joel Rosario made a clear lead with #6 Scream Queen and the strategy paid off as they were never challenged on this speed-favoring surface. The race favorite, #1 Silver Threat, was pushed along in second place down the backstretch, but was no threat to Scream Queen who smoked the first quarter mile in 21 and 4/5ths seconds and the half mile in 44 and 3/5ths.

 This was a rematch for these two runners, who met on Dec. 18. In that meeting, Silver Threat broke slowly then went wide, but still beat Scream Queen by a head while finishing second. Scream Queen’s tactics that day were to lay back a few lengths from the leaders then make a stretch run. Scream Queen’s change of running style from stalker to front runner on Saturday seemed to make a world of difference, as her Beyer Speed Figure increased from 63 on Dec. 18 to 70 on Saturday.

In my write-up before the race, I identified Scream Queen and Silver Threat as the logical contenders.  Although I noted that no natural speed horses were entered in the race, I did not attempt to identify who would likely go to the front. I should have taken a shot at it, because when I ran the past performances through my pace software, it showed that a repeat of one of Scream Queen’s past races would give her an easy early lead. 

But I was fixated on the bad trip by Silver Threat even though I knew her odds would likely be pounded down to an unbettable price of less than 2-to-1. In the Daily Racing Form, Silver Threat was picked on top by all of the handicappers and Brad Free wrote in detail about the trouble she encountered last time.

So, everybody knew.

I wrote that Scream Queen could win if she improved by a couple of lengths while Silver Threat regressed. And the way the race shaped up, that seems to be what happened. 

But I wanted 7-to-2 on Scream Queen for my $200 bet, yet she went off at only 2-to-1. My potential $400 wager on Silver Threat never materialized either because her post time odds were an ugly 7-to-5.

Anyway, I lost $100 on the race due to a flier I took on #10 Wild Date, who ran well four starts back, however has performed poorly in her last three — now make it four — starts.

To watch a replay of this race go to www.calracing .com.

1 1 Silver Threat (KY) Talamo J Miller P 1.40 3
2 2 Cal Bayers (KY) Gomez G Hess, Jr. R 8.70 10
3 3 Ansede (KY) Gutierrez M Taylor T 10.00 2
5 4 Candy and Nuts (KY) Krigger K Pederson D 15.40 4
6 5 Scream Queen (KY) Rosario J Sherman A 2.40 1
7 6 Call Me Tough (CA) Flores E Collins D 69.40 8
8 7 Causeway Express (KY) Quinonez A McAnally R 15.50 7
9 8 Secret Genius (CA) Santiago Reyes C Knapp S 37.60 5
10 9 Wild Date (FL) Bejarano R Harty E 9.00 6
11 10 Four Forty Second (ON) Stra K Bernstein D 24.50 9
SCR Janie Girl (CA)    
SCR Bull Rush (FL)    
Pgm Win Place Show
6 $6.80 $4.00 $2.60
3 $8.20 $4.40
1 $2.40
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $26.50 (6-3)
$1.00 Superfecta paid $303.90 (6-3-1-5)
$1.00 Trifecta paid $61.70 (6-3-1)
Fractional Times
21.77, 44.55, 1:09.58, 1:16.24

Results, Friday, Santa Anita Race 3 — lost $700

Troy Taylor won Friday's third with 8/1 shot Coparcenary

In my race preview, I had many questions about favorite #11 Warren’s Performer and second-choice #7 Golden Nip. I came to the conclusion that neither one represented a good bet at low odds and that two second-timers in the race that were both coming off long layoffs — #5 Dani’s Sis and #6 Coparcenary — were horses that could win at a decent price.

Dani’s Sis is trained by Mike Puype, who is good with horses making their second lifetime starts and even better when they are coming off long layoffs. Dani’s Sis was making her first start in 10 months.

Coparcenary was being saddled by one of the leading horsemen at Hastings Park in Vancouver B.C., Troy Taylor. Taylor hit with 55 of 222 starters in 2011 — or 25 percent — so he is without a doubt a competent horseman. But since I had no statistics on how Taylor does with inexperienced horses coming off layoffs, and Puype is one of the best with this second-time starter move in Southern California, I opted to wager $500 on Dani’s Sis.

I should have known Taylor had a betting coup in the works with Coparcenary because virtually the same thing happened on January 15, 2009. On that day at Santa Anita, another Canadian invader, Mark Casse — who took  the Sovereign Award as Canada’s top trainer three times — also won with a horse who hadn’t raced in many months and was making just its second lifetime start. One other glaring similarity should have made Coparcenary, an 8-to-1 shot, an obvious play: both Taylor and Casse brought their own jockeys in from the Great White North — with Taylor using Mario Gutierrez and Casse legging up Patrick Husbands.

At the very least, I should have split the betting money between Dani’s Sis and Coparcenary. But, overall, second-timers in these cheap maiden races for older horses are not good bets. I typically need strong evidence that the trainer profitably uses this move. So, I played it safe and went with the Puype horse.

As the gates opened, Dani’s Sis broke slowly to be three lengths behind the leaders. At the quarter mile mark, jockey Freddie Lenclud used Dani’s Sis a bit to get into fourth place, just two lengths from front runner #1 Our New Dancer.

Meanwhile, Coparcenary broke alertly to be running with the first flight without rider Gutierrez even asking the filly for speed. Coparcenary settled into fifth place at the quarter mile, but was only three lengths from the front. Midway on the turn, Coparcenary came up the rail and was on even terms with Dani’s Sis. Lenclud was working hard on Dani’s Sis, but not getting much response.

At the top of the lane, Warren’s Performer overtook 50-to-1 shot Our New Dancer, but then Coparcenary came on in the middle of the track to mow them both down. Meanwhile, Dani’s Sis found enough energy to get by the tiring Our New Dancer for third place.

In all, I ended up losing $700 on the blog as I called an audible with 20 minutes to post and noted that I was preparing to put $200 on Golden Nip at 3/1 or more in the hopes she could match the 72 Beyer she ran four races back in November 2010. Golden Nip finished seventh.

To watch a replay of this race go to

1 1 Our New Dancer (CA) Maldonado E Dunham D 53.80 4
2 2 Silver Luna (KY) Vergara D Knapp S 12.10 5
4 3 Warrens Matchmaker (CA) Steiner J Van Berg J 54.00 9
5 4 Dani’s Sis (KY) Lenclud F Puype M 4.00 3
6 5 Coparcenary (BC) Gutierrez M Taylor T 8.90 1
7 6 Golden Nip (CA) Nakatani C Miller P 3.20 7
8 7 Key Allegro (KY) Bejarano R Periban J 8.70 8
9 8 Tusun (CA) Stra K Locke T 88.40 10
10 9 Babeneau (KY) Talamo J Ellis R 10.00 5
11 10 Warren’s Performer (CA) Santiago Reyes C Gutierrez J 2.00 2
SCR Annie Lou (KY)    
Pgm Win Place Show
6 $19.80 $8.40 $5.80
11 $3.40 $3.20
5 $4.20
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $40.00 (6-11)
$1.00 Pick 3 paid $90.30 (5-5-6)
$1.00 Superfecta paid $2492.20 (6-11-5-1)
$1.00 Trifecta paid $156.40 (6-11-5)
$2.00 Daily Double paid $74.20 (5-6)
Fractional Times
21.95, 44.95, 1:10.72, 1:17.70
%d bloggers like this: