06/19/2009 7:52PM

From 7.9 to 4.4

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After writing the Sunday column about Wesley Ward's triumphs at Ascot and the state of 2-year-old racing here and abroad, I got curious about how many starts our 2-year-old champions are making these days as compared to the recent past. And constant readers know what happens when I get curious about this kind of stuff: I somewhat compulsively open up Champions and The American Racing Manual and start making a color-coded chart.

Here, then, are the number of starts, month by month, made by the 36 2-year-old champion colts or geldings since 1973. At the bottom is a total for each of the four nine-year periods during that span:

The key finding is in the highlighted green section: The champion 2-year-olds from 1973 through 1981 made an average of 7.9 starts as juveniles, while those from 2000 through 2008 made an average of 4.4 starts. And if you remove Seattle Slew's unusual three-start campaign, and Johannesburg's European one, the gap increases to 8.5 vs. 4.1.