Trainer Norman McKnight set a new record for wins in a single season at Woodbine this weekend, saddling Gold Lace for his 120th winner of the meeting and third win on Sunday's card. The previous record of 119 wins was set by six-time Sovereign Award-winning trainer Mark Casse, whose 102 wins in 2018 have him firmly in second in the Woodbine standings.
McKnight has sent out 368 starters at Woodbine this year, giving him a win rate of 33 percent. His trainees have finished in the money in 68 percent of their efforts, and this year's winners also included McKnight's first graded stakes win since 1999 when Decorated Soldier captured the G3 Seagram Cup.
Also this season, McKnight and veterinarian Brian Van Arem were sanctioned by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario for the use of extracorporeal shock wave therapy within 96 hours of a race. Neither was suspended, but each did receive a fine and a total of three of McKnight's horses had to be scratched from their races.
A former Standardbred trainer and driver, McKnight drove the winners of 110 races in 1990 and 116 in 1991, also winning several races as a trainer. Unfortunately, wrote Bill Finley, a barn fire wiped out his entire stable at the end of 1991. Though McKnight was ready to re-group with Standardbreds, owner Lou Donato offered him a chance to get his start with Thoroughbreds.
Joining with Rita Schnitzler, McKnight took several years to learn the business of Thoroughbred racing and finally went out on his own in 1999. McKnight has now compiled a total of 648 wins in North America, according to Equibase, with 2018 far and away his most successful year as a trainer. Last winter McKnight sent his first contingent to Oaklawn Park, where he won with 16 of his 80 starters.
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