11/01/2010 10:30PM

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