11/25/2004 12:00AM

McKnight handy with breeds apart


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Norm McKnight has come full circle.

McKnight, once a prominent Standardbred trainer-driver, switched breeds in 1995, moving into the world of Thoroughbred racing.

In 1999 McKnight went out on his own and has forged a successful training career through the past six seasons, winning 122 races with stakes winners Dawson's Legacy, Brite Adam, and Slightlymorelikely among his success stories.

And while he's certainly not about to sever his connection with the Thoroughbreds, McKnight, 48, has begun moonlighting as a harness driver.

McKnight, who had last driven a Standardbred in 1994, returned to action at Woodbine Tuesday night and finished a closing second with pacer Twin City Turbo at 18-1.

"He had lots of go," said McKnight. "He must have paced his last half in 55 [seconds]."

On Wednesday afternoon, McKnight drove trotter Chucaro Resera to a fifth-place finish at nearby Flamboro Downs.

Back at Woodbine for Wednesday evening's Thoroughbred program, McKnight sent out Raptor Speed and Imarealfancydehere, both of whom finished fourth.

On Thursday, he had two more drives at Flamboro.

McKnight's harness racing revival began when he was contacted by Don O'Dwyer, a colleague from his Standardbred days.

"He'd had some health problems, and he called me out of the blue," said McKnight. "He came to visit, stayed with me for about a week.

"We were reminiscing about old times, and next thing I know he'd talked me into driving again."

Richard Scriver, one of McKnight's Thoroughbred clients, bought Twin City Turbo. Scriver, who with McKnight's help turned the $16,000 Thoroughbred claim Shelter into a stallion, was looking for a new Thoroughbred.

"I discussed it with Rick," said McKnight. "If we'd claimed one we'd get one start, then have to put him away and carry him till next spring."

Scriver, who had owned Standardbreds in the past with McKnight doing the driving on occasion, was receptive to getting back into the harness game. McKnight, through an agent, found Twin City Turbo, who was purchased for $50,000 in Michigan.

The next step was for McKnight to update his driving credentials, which required a visit to the Ontario Racing Commission stewards.

"They told me because of my past record, they required me just to do 10 qualifiers to reinstate my license," said McKnight.

McKnight drove in nine qualifying races at Flamboro, one at Mohawk Raceway last Saturday morning, and then picked up his papers.

"I'll try and acquire a few horses," he said. "A few Thoroughbred people have been showing an interest.

"And, when the season ends I'll try and promote myself, for the catch-driving end of it. I did a lot of that in the business before.

"But, it's very competitive here; there are a lot of guys established. It's not something that's going to happen overnight."

Another major reason that McKnight is able to pursue his current course is the emergence of his son, 23-year-old Brad McKnight, as a licensed trainer in his own right.

"He's been with me for seven years," said McKnight. "For the most part, with the everyday running of the stable, Brad handles a big part of it. I've been focusing more on managing the business."

Which race for Enough Is Enough?

One race here Saturday will have to suffice for Enough Is Enough, a 2-year-old colt who has been entered in both the Display and the Sunny's Halo.

The $137,500 Display is a 1 1/16-mile open race, while the $104,000 Sunny's Halo is a 6 1/2-furlong race for Canadian-breds.

"My partners and I just wanted to check both races out," said Steve Attard, who trains Enough Is Enough and is a co-owner with John Milloy and Sheldon Pettle. "But I'm pretty sure I'm going in the foaled-in-Canada race."

One reason Attard will probably run in the Sunny's Halo is because Enough Is Enough has yet to race beyond seven furlongs. He won the Frost King at seven furlongs here Oct. 27.

Enough Is Enough also is eligible for the Kingarvie, a 1 1/16-mile race here Dec. 12. Like the Frost King, the Kingarvie is an Ontario Sire Stakes.

"If I run this horse a mile and a sixteenth for the first time, I'd like to go in the Kingarvie," Attard said. "I think to run him in the Display Stakes, and to find out he doesn't want to go a mile and a sixteenth, then I blow a 6 1/2-furlong race."

Todd Kabel, the runaway leading rider here, has the call on Enough Is Enough in both stakes Saturday.

Dave the Knave, a half-brother to the talented Forever Grand, could give Enough Is Enough much to handle in the Sunny's Halo.

Owned by Frank DiGiulio and trainer Bob Tiller, Dave the Knave was a six-length winner of an Ontario-sired maiden special over six furlongs here Oct. 30.

"He's still learning the game, but I think he's a nice individual," said Tiller. "I think he's going to run a creditable race."