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O’Brien Double For Sintra?

Published: January 19, 2021 8:00 pm ET

Last Comment: January 19, 2021 8:40 pm ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

The nation’s top older pacing horse of the year in 2017 is back for a second chance at hauling home O’Brien Award hardware, and this time he’ll be looking to do so for trainer Anthony Beaton.

Sintra captured the award in 2017 under the guidance of trainer Dave Menary, and he did so thanks in large part to a powerhouse performance in that year’s Canadian Pacing Derby.

There were no major stake victories in 2020 for the now eight-year-old son of Mach Three-Dancin Barefoot, but regardless of that fact he’s the type of horse that Beaton does nothing but beam about.

“He’s a horse that really loves his job,” claimed Beaton. “He’s a moody horse in the barn, the kind that stays in back of his stall and sticks to himself. He’s not personable and the kind of horse that won't spend a lot of time over his stall gate, but when his caretaker Mark Cecile is around he’s just the opposite.

“He has quite a connection with Mark,” Beaton added. “If the horse is in the paddock on race night and Mark leaves him to go get a bucket of water or something, the horse just freaks out. But when Mark’s with him he’s quite as a mouse. He’s just a real nice horse to be around overall.”

While he has a face for radio, he also has the body of Adonis. Beaton states that’s likely what makes him the kind of horse that can compete at this level for as long and as successfully as he has.

“He doesn’t have the nicest head, but he has the body of a good horse,” Beaton admitted. “If you look at his body, he’s a beast of an animal. He’s very powerful looking.”

Sintra compiled an overall record of 9-4-2 from 22 starts during the 2020 season, and impressively he manufactured a 5-0-1 record from eight starts under the guidance of trainer Beaton.

Traffic troubles in the 2020 Canadian Pacing Derby limited the classy veteran to a fast-closing, fourth-place finish in the rich affair, but Beaton felt it was the race just before the Derby that stood out among all of his performances this past year.

“Just before the Canadian Pacing Derby he came from off the pace from third over and I believe he paced a back half in :52 an a bit,” recalled Beaton. “I remember we stood at the edge of the track that night and we thought he’d never get there from where he was sitting, but he ended up winning by two lengths. It was an amazing effort. He’s just got to be in the hunt, and he’ll track them down if he’s given an opportunity.”

Prior to the recent shutdown, Sintra had reeled off three straight wins in the Preferred ranks at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The plan was to try and rack up a few more trips to the winner’s circle before giving him a little break. As it turns out, he got that break earlier than expected.

“He’s still in the barn and we’re just kind of playing it by ear,” said Beaton when quizzed about what the pacer was up to now that racing is suspended. “We tried getting him in before the shutdown of racing, but the class wasn’t filling. We planned on racing him here and there and then give him some time off. I haven’t talked to the owners lately, but hopefully we can have him on his toes for when the summer stakes season rolls around. I’m sure he’s got a full slate of stakes ahead of him.”

Being a part of the O’Brien Awards is something Beaton is well familiar with thanks to his long-time association with former boss, Casie Coleman-Herlihy. But this marks the first year Beaton will be rooting for a horse that he trained.

“We were fortunate to get an O’Brien Award with Vegas Vacation (who Beaton co-owned), but this was the first one that I’ve trained,” claimed Beaton. “I actually found out Sintra was a finalist when I got home from the barn one day and checked Standardbred Canada’s website. It’s quite a feather in your cap just to be in the top two in Canada. It’s quite a feat.”

A night of celebrating could be in store for Beaton and his crew, and later this month the harness racing world will find out during a virtual edition of the O’Brien Awards. But how the celebrating could take place is something that he hasn’t quite figured out yet.

“We haven’t really discussed that, but I’m certain we’ll tune in off and on throughout the night,” said Beaton when referring to this year’s virtual event. “We haven’t gone to the event the last few years, but we still managed to check in online. I’m sure it will be more of the same this year.”

Beaton’s barn currently consists of 32 horses to begin the 2021 campaign. Sixteen of them are two-year-olds and the remainder are a combination of three-year-olds and older horses, including Sintra.

Whether an O'Brien Award is in the cards or not, one thing is for certain: Beaton has plenty of reasons to celebrate after what was a career year for him and his connections in 2020.

“Overall I thought we had a great season,” remarked Beaton. “It was a busy season and we raced quite a few horses this year, much more than other years. I thought at the start of the year if we happened to have a year similar to [2019] it would have been great. I picked up 10-15 more horses this year, and we hoped to double our numbers, and we did. We worked hard, but it was a very rewarding year.

The 2020 Virtual O’Brien Awards Gala takes place on Sunday, January 31, 2021 and will be available for viewing on standardbredcanada.ca from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. (EST).

January 19, 2021 - 8:40 pmSintra has a lovely head.

Sintra has a lovely head.


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