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.

Irish Carl O’Callaghan saddles up Leaving New York

Trainer Carl O'Callaghan performs final preparations before Del Mar's 9th

Results, Santa Anita Sunday Race 9 — lost $300

Trainer Carl O'Callahan, who won with 9/1 shot Brian the Brave, regularly performs Irish music at L.A. bars

Trainer Carl O'Callaghan, who won with 9/1 shot Brian the Brave, regularly performs Irish music at L.A. bars

In July, trainer Carl O’Callaghan sent #12 Brian the Brave to be gelded and when the 3-year-old came back to the races on Sept. 4, the new gelding was a faster, more valuable animal.

In that first comeback race, Brian the Brave ran a 71 Beyer Speed Figure while four paths wide on the turn, which was probably his fastest race up until that point.  In the interim, Brian the Brave had two fast workouts which set him up well for Sunday when he broke his maiden at 9-to-1 by running down #11 Launch the Bull.

And Launch the Bull was no slouch. Coming into the race, Launch the Bull exceeded the median Beyer Speed Figure needed to win at this class in his last three starts.

All of Launch the Bull’s three losses were against higher-priced maiden claimers. The one big knock on Launch the Bull, though, is that this Peter Miller-trainee tires late and seems to always get caught at the wire.

Sunday was no different.

The race began with speed ball #6 Jamieson going straight to the front on the backstretch. Both Launch the Bull and Brian the Brave were stalking the pace from about a length behind. And midway on the turn, both surged to the lead as a team.

At the top of the lane, Launch the Bull pulled away from Brian the Brave by a length, but just like in his past races, Launch the Bull couldn’t hold the lead and Brian the Brave nailed him at the wire.

The win was just the third of the year for trainer Carl O’Callaghan, who moonlights by performing Irish music in Los Angeles and San Diego area bars. By clicking on his name, you can check his music website or here for his stable site.

I bet $300 on Launch the Bull at 2/1.

To watch a replay of this race, go to

1 1 Adebayor (KY) Garcia M O’Neill D 4.20 5
3 2 Heisman U (KY) Rivera C Stute G 28.70 6
4 3 Fun in the Park (CA) Arambula P Periban J 103.50 9
6 4 Jamieson (CA) Baze T Zucker H 3.50 8
7 5 Escaping the Storm (FL) Bejarano R Hess, Jr. R 4.20 3
9 6 Ol’dogtown (CA) Scott J Bellasis R 23.70 7
10 7 Eminent Honor (KY) Iniguez S Fernandez V 68.90 10
11 8 Launch the Bull (KY) Santiago Reyes C Miller P 2.00 2
12 9 Brian the Brave (KY) Quinonez A O’Callaghan C 9.40 1
13 10 Father Grumpy (CA) Rosario J Gutierrez J 15.10 4
SCR Halo’s Limit (KY) Olivarez M Jimenez J
SCR Louie Tre (FL)    
SCR Freetoagoodhome (CA) Valdez F Wicker L
SCR Tumbling Dice Man (CA) Atkinson P Pender M
Pgm Win Place Show
12 $20.80 $8.00 $6.20
11 $3.40 $2.80
7 $2.80
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Consolation Pick 3 paid $7.10 (10-2-7/8)

Saturday, Santa Anita Race 4 — 1:34 pm post time

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden Special Weight, 6-1/2 furlongs, 3-year-olds

Possible overlays                         Morning line

#3 Temerity                                   4/1
#5 Brian the Brave                           15/1

Garrett Gomez takes over for jockey David Flores on #8 Unionize, the 8-to-5 morning line favorite. Trainer Clifford Sise had this horse ready to win in his Dec. 28 debut, as Unionize  earned a 90 Beyer Speed Figure but he couldn’t catch Point Encounter.

If, for some reason, Unionize isn’t at his best then #3 Temerity has a good chance to upset him. Ron Ellis brought this colt back from a six-month layoff on Feb. 7  to run a 79 Beyer Speed Figure in a 5-1/2 furlong race. Those races are dominated by early speed so this horse was at a disadvantage, but now fits well at 6-1/2 furlongs.

Finally, #5 Brian the Brave, a first-time starter, has a couple of swift workouts and may be a play at a price. Since I had never heard of Brian the Brave’s trainer, Carl O’Callaghan, I plugged his name into Google. I didn’t find much out about his training abilities, but discovered this native of County Clare is also a musician that spends his evenings belting out the Irish favorites at Arcadia-area bars.

I am guessing that “Irish Carl” works for Patrick Gallagher because Gallagher is the regular trainer for Super Horse, Inc., which owns Brian the Brave.

At the betting window, I will take $200 to win on #3 Temerity at 2/1 to 7/2 but just $150 to win at 4/1 and up. Also, I want a $150 win bet on #5 Brian the Brave at 5/1 to 19/1 only.

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