11/01/2010 11:30PM

Carl O'Callaghan and his Kinsale King


You may remember the screaming jumping jack at the races in Dubai. Trainer Carl O’Callaghan, overjoyed to the point of hysteria, leapt and twisted and shouted while rooting his Kinsale King home in the Golden Shaheen. It’s odds-on that no other trainer showed such emotion that night -- or maybe ever! On HRTV later, Carl called it his “Irish River Dance in Dubai.”

Now the well-traveled Irish-bred trainer and his amiable Kentucky-bred gelding are nestled in barn 24 at Churchill Downs where, this morning, they shared a Guinness. As Kinsale King lapped contentedly at the bottle, it was obvious this wasn’t a rare occurrence.   


I knew Carl BKK (before Kinsale King). BKK he was a part-time Irish country-music singer, an exercise rider and assistant before becoming a trainer in 2009. I met him way back when he exercised Flat Fleet Feet for John Kimmel in the mid ‘90s.

Nowadays, as a country song might say, music’s on the back burner while Kinsale King uses his afterburners.

Carl is a red-haired, sharp-featured, personable young horseman with green-grey eyes, a smattering of freckles and an infectious smile. His life’s not always been easy, including a brief stint being homeless in New York. But he has not just fulfilled his dream of being a trainer, he's done so in smashing fashion.


After rocking the house this March in Dubai, Carl and King returned to California. And then they traveled to New York, where Kinsale King worked out before a trip to Royal Ascot for the Golden Jubilee (for added international flavor, Kieren Fallon flew over to work King at Belmont). And where was King stabled there? His stall was at the barn of Carl’s old boss, Todd Pletcher – between Quality Road and Super Saver.


Kinsale King ran third at Royal Ascot and 12th in a race at Newmarket. Then he came home to California again, and now he’s here in the Bluegrass State. Ever the nice guy, Carl has donated King’s shoes, halter and a painting done by the gelding himself to various equine-rescue charities.

After Dubai, Carl became a star on Facebook, sharing his adventures with more than 1,300 'friends.'  Recent posts:

Yesterday at 8:53 p.m.: Well Im here and KING shipped awesome he loves to fly be on the track at 8am tomorrow so its time for bed its been a long day see you all soon keep the faith!!!!

Yesterday at 9:20 p.m.: Barn 24 come on by and meet the KING!!!!!!!!!! ALL are welcome

He could become an even bigger star on Saturday. If King wins his sprint race, then the world might get to see an Irish River Dance in Kentucky.


To enjoy Carl's Dubai dance, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvnMTUBXOHk





Slew More than 1 year ago
I was really pulling for Kinsale King, he's such a majestic creature, and the exuberance of Carl at Meydan was soooo infectious. Thank you for the beautiful photos.
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Barbara Where are you? It's been more than a +week, especially during this Breeders Cup...so many opportunitys for photos and stories. Has the DRF brass held you hostage somewhwere?? Or are you saving the Breeders Cup experiance for a special edition? My goodness..with .Zenyatta, Goldikova, More on Mo! ...Pluck, and all the rest, like Life at Ten & all that drama! I hope to see you soon...and more of your wonderful pictures and stories.
Raymond More than 1 year ago
Ms. Livingston, I am one of those that was also going to write about what a welcome addition your blog was to the DRF. Your pictures and prose are such a delightful breath of fresh air to the form. After several beautiful entries in October and the beginning of Breeders Cup Week, I have been returning every day only to be disappointed that there have been no more recent blogs. I hope you are well. I was especially hoping to see something on the much beloved Zenyatta, as you write and photograph so beautifully. It would be nice to hear your perspective as someone that writes about these wonderful animals that goes far beyond speed ratings and other nonsense but captures the true essence of these magnificent animals.
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Ms Livingston Nice pictures and story . Hope you are enjoying The Breeders Cup events and races...BTW , will you have anything an Zenyatta here? I've seen some gorgeous pictures on the DRF site that you took. Keep up the great work.
sherpa More than 1 year ago
I've come back several times to enjoy these pictures. Kinsale King is drop-dead gorgeous and appears to be full of personality, just like his trainer! :-) They're obviously best (drinking) buddies, too! It's nice that KK is a gelding so won't be rushed off to breed ... maybe when his racing days are done, he can be Carl's pony and they can live long and prosper together. Best of luck in your race, boyos ... may the road rise with you and the wind be blowin' at your backs!
Celeste More than 1 year ago
Thank you! My best wishes go out to Mr. O'Callaghan and King for a great race. I enjoyed seeing again his enthusiasm and hope to see more from Churchill Downs. Far too many trainers and owners are so reserved and appear to be nonchalant when their wins come along, it's great to see someone who enjoys the moment.
Karen More than 1 year ago
Wishing Carl & the King all the best. I've watched every race of his since Dubai.