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.

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