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Sintra Adds New Owners

Published: April 17, 2019 11:38 am ET

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He was the fastest horse in the U.S. two seasons ago, and the fastest horse on Canadian soil in 2018. Pacing powerhouse Sintra is set to return to the racetrack with new connections.

Entered in an online auction earlier this month to dissolve a partnership, Sintra fetched a bid of $261,000. That price was too low for one of the gelding's owners, Michael Guerriero, and so he retained the horse.

"Given the circumstances, I didn't really want to let go of the horse unless I felt value was there, and I don't think that it was properly achieved considering what's been happening and the present situation that we've been put in."

Guerriero owned Sintra with Brad Gray and David Menary's Menary Racing. Menary is currently suspended by the AGCO for a violation of probation. With the former connections of Sintra in limbo, the horse was was sold on OnGait but Guerriero wasn't happy with the amount the horse attracted. So he found owners that were quite willing to come aboard, and a new trainer to campaign the 2017 O'Brien Award winner.

"The transfer hasn't been completely pushed over yet through Standardbred Canada; should be hopefully done by the end of the week," noted Guerriero. "The new owners are going to be Kelly Waxman, Nunzio Vena, Frank Cirillo and myself.

"Stephanie Jamieson is going to be training the horse, and Jody will continue to be driving. I thought it would be proper to give them the shot. He's worked with the horse for the last three, four years. He knows the horse well. Considering the present circumstances, I don't know if moving him to someone else would be a great benefit because they might start tinkering, they don't know the horse as well. Jody's driven him so many times, knows the way the horse likes to race, knows the way the horse is, the attitude. I figured to give them the shot first and then go from there."

Sintra (Mach Three - Dancin Barefoot) enjoyed a stellar 2017 season in which he turned in a 1:47.2 career-best mile in the final of the Graduate Series at The Meadowlands and was victorious in the Canadian Pacing Derby at Woodbine Mohawk Park. His O'Brien Award-winning campaign included nine wins from 19 races and $617,775 in earnings, but his 2018 season wasn't as successful: just one win from 11 starts, a 1:48 mile in the Mohawk Gold Cup, and $86,011 earned. Menary told Trot Insider late last year that the horse had experienced thumps -- an irregular spasming of the diaphragm -- for the first time in 2018 and gave the horse some time off before returning in late December. The pacer then reeled off five straight wins at the Preferred level at Mohawk to start the year before Menary received notices of positive test for cobalt on Sintra and Deetzy.

Guerriero told Trot Insider he had no concerns over Sintra's ability to return to his competitive and successful form.

"I felt that given the way he'd responded this year after the layoff, and knowing what he was capable of from the prior year, I thought that he would be worth a lot more. He's raced against the top for the last two years in North America, and he's proven that he's able to compete and succeed, so I thought that there was going to be money left on the table at the price that he was selling for this year. I figured it was a good business bet to retain him and keep him going.

"His record and pedigree speak for themselves. He's been tested numerous amounts of the five weeks leading up to the positive he received there was nothing. I don't know what to say of how or why. I can lead to speculation of different things, but that's for the people who deal with this stuff to figure out and hopefully come to a proper resolution and finding. I think that his record spoke for itself. I know it's a cloud, but in my eyes -- I know the horse and I know what he's done, how he's been treated -- I don't think that had anything to do with his performance."

Further, given that the AGCO assessed the cobalt overages as a Class 3 positive test, Sintra's eligibility to compete in stakes events on both sides of the border that added stipulations to stakes conditions regarding positive tests for 2019 has not been affected.

"When I had spoken to the governing authorities, that was not an issue based upon the fact that the cobalt positive he [Sintra] received was a minor level and was a Class 3 rule violation whereas they're situated on a Class 1, but that being said, there's discretion that they have. I would hope that they wouldn't, but you never know what happens and transpires.

"They had a suspension on Sintra for 15 days, and he's been released from suspension. I put in transfer papers for ownership and trainer transfer, and they've agreed that everything is fine. They're allowing him to race and take him off suspension; I don't see why he wouldn't be able to race in the upcoming stakes events considering everything has been pushed forward and agreed upon now. But that being said, I'm not the governing body. I don't know what they may come up with at a later point, but any time I've asked, I haven't gotten any negative response."

Guerriero said that the plan was to qualify Sintra, who hasn't raced since February 23, on Thursday at Mohawk.

"I believe he's going to be in to qualify on Thursday, if everything stays right. We'll take it from there, see how the qualifier goes and decide from there.

"We had the intention of giving him a break anyways. He's shown that he's come back and is feeling good. I didn't think we were going to be keeping him going all the way through the summer. I don't know if it was the date that we planned to shut him down for a little bit, but it doesn't hurt to get a good little deserved rest."

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