09/06/2001 11:00PM

Numerous Times has already won the fight that counts


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The odds would seem to be against Numerous Times in Sunday's Atto Mile.

Although undefeated in five career starts for The Committee Stable and trainer Sid Attard, the 4-year-old Numerous Times will be making his stakes debut in the Atto in particularly testing company.

But then Numerous Times has prevailed in a much tougher battle, as he won his fight for life after coming down with enteritis here last fall.

Numerous Times was rushed to the veterinary clinic at the University of Guelph after being stricken with the intestinal infection last November.

"They got hold of me at about 3 o'clock in the morning, at home," recalled Bob Harvey, a longtime owner who is a principal in The Committee Stable. "They had to have my permission to operate on him; they said if they didn't, he's going to die."

Following the surgery, Numerous Times was on intravenous medication for two weeks when he came down with another infection.

"He started to go down again," said Harvey. "They said to me it doesn't look good. The doctor said if he lays down, he's not coming up."

But Numerous Times also fought off that threat, and was starting to come around when another complication arose.

"We were getting ready to send him to the farm," said Harvey, "and he gets colic. By the time it was all over he had lost 350 pounds, but he never lost his spirit."

Numerous Times spent the winter at nearby Norse Ridge Farm, where his recuperation was supervised by farm manager Richard Moylan.

Since returning to the racetrack this spring, Numerous Times has been as good as new, rattling off back-to-back victories over seven furlongs on the E.P. Taylor turf course.

Numerous Times, a colt by Numerous out of the Theatrical mare Dramatical, was purchased by Harvey at the Keeneland September yearling sale for $165,000.

"He was such a gorgeous-looking animal," said Harvey, adding that local trainer Tom Danks accompanied him to the sale as an aide and originally brought Numerous Times to his attention.

Harvey, who had the Queen's Plate in mind when he purchased Numerous Times, had the colt training in Kentucky early in his 2-year-old season before sending him to Woodbine.

"When I brought him up here he just wasn't himself," said Harvey. "He was at the back of the stall, and sulked. He was eating tremendously, but he wasn't putting any weight on, so Sid said, 'Let's give him the rest of the year off.' "

Although Numerous Times won his debut in May 2000, turning plenty of heads with a Beyer Speed Figure of 90 for seven furlongs, his Queen's Plate quest was soon derailed.

Entered May 27 in an allowance race, the colt failed to pass the race-day veterinary examination.

"Sid told me he was going funny from behind, plus his shins were hot. It looked like he might have bucked them," said Harvey.

Numerous Times did not race again until last Sept. 24, when he won a first-level allowance at 6 1/2 furlongs, but his connections still were not pleased with his action, which had been a concern even during his first race.

"He just wasn't striding out properly," said Harvey.

Following an exhaustive examination by Dr. Steven Selway, who flew in from New York, Numerous Times underwent a series of X-rays, which revealed a touch of arthritis in joints adjacent to his hocks.

"We treated it, and within three days this was a totally different horse," said Harvey, who watched Numerous Times pass through his second allowance condition with ease when he made his turf debut against older rivals here last October.

Numerous Times was entered for the Autumn Handicap here in early November, but was scratched when he was found full of mucus on race day. A week later, his season was over and his life in jeopardy.

But that's now all a bad memory as Numerous Times, carefully managed this year, has faced increasingly difficult competition but has not been seriously tested. His last score came in the prep for the Play the King Handicap, a seven-furlong turf race here Aug. 25 for which the colt was nominated.

Harvey, however, decided to take the plunge with Numerous Times in the Atto Mile, a decision that was supported by the colt's regular rider, Patrick Husbands.

"He says it's going to take one hell of a horse to beat him," Harvey said.