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Bay Area Backstretch

An Irish Jig for Kinsale King

I saw something today at Golden Gate Fields I had never seen before.

There I stood, braving a cold, windy, rainy Thursday afternoon to watch a 2-5 favorite, ease to the wire almost a length in front in an allowance race. No, that part I have seen that way to often.

It was what happened next.

As I watched him cross the finish line, my eyes caught glimpse of a very tall man, doing an Irish jig just outside of the winners circle. Okay, maybe it wasn’t a jig, but there was a whole lot of jumping, body shaking and arm waving going on, so I will call it a jig.

Needless to say, he was a happy man.

“We are back in the game,” the man shouted as he hugged everyone within arms length. “Woooooo.”

The man was trainer Carl O’Callaghan and his celebration was for his horse, Kinsale King.

The reigning champion of the $2 Million Dubai Golden Shaheen made an appearance at Golden Gate Fields to prep for his attempt to repeat in Dubai in March.

The 6-year-old son of Yankee Victor, has already earned over 1.5 million but you would have thought it was his maiden win by the way O’Callaghan treated it.

“If he wins in Dubai again, I’ll be break dancing,” O’Callaghan said of his post race celebration. “To be honest, I felt like a cat in a dog show. I was nervous from this morning on.”

As it turned out, he had no reason to be.

Under jockey Mike Smith, Kinsale King took the lead shortly after the start of the six furlong race and eased to fractions of 22.5 and 44.8 while putting away Paul’s Hope. The only other challenger, Shudacudawudya, loomed up at the top of the lane but could only get to within ¾ of a length at the finish. By then, Smith had the winner under wraps and ready to go to the barn.

“All I had to do was stay on,” Smith said. “Carl had him ready to go. He was definitely on his game today. I showed him the stick then I put it away. He would have took off again once the other one came to him .”

O’Callaghan picked Golden Gate Fields for his prep race because of the Tapeta surface. Meydan Racecourse, where the Golden Shaheen is run, is also a Tapeta surface.

“I passed on the Palos Verdes because of the dirt course at Santa Anita,” O’Callaghan said. “He missed a little training in January because of the weather and this was a good place because this track has always been so nice to me whenever I come here.”

So now it’s off to Dubai for Kinsale King and if he wins the race again, his connections can credit a little tune up at a little place called Golden Gate Fields.


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Meet Don August

I have been involved in horse racing, from a fan to sportswriter, for the past 30 years. The first time my dad took me to the track, I picked a horse named "Black Tornado" and when he won, I was hooked.  From then on, I spent weekends and occasional school days at the race track, and my enjoyment of the sport led me to try my hand at being a jockey agent, which i did for 3 years. When that didn't work out as I had hoped, I concentrated on my writing career by covering big races and doing summer fair handicapping, off and on, for the Contra Costa Times.

Today, I stay involved in the sport by being part of a group that currently owns two horses stabled at Golden Gate Fields. As all owners, we have dreams of someday having that special horse.  Besides writing about horse racing I enjoy covering many sports and have had the honor of meeting and writing about some incredible athletes.

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