09/17/2009 4:46PM

Midshipman's Return

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When Midshipman makes his first start since winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in Friday's 3rd race at Belmont, he will be coming off the second longest layoff by any returning 2-year-old champion in the last 36 years:

A few thoughts:

--In total, 18 of these 35 2-year-old champs won their first start at 3, but it's a tale ot two streaks: They were 12 for 17 from 1972 through 1988, but only 6 for 18 since.

--All four 2-year-old champs who did not return for six months or more -- Macho Uno (264 days), Maria's Mon (282), Roving Boy (305) and Gilded Time (371) -- lost their debuts at 3. So did two of the three others whose first start at 3 came 150 days or more after their last start at 2: Capote (152 days) and Johannesburg (154 days.) Arazi won his first start at 3 off a 156-day break. So returning 2-year-old champs coming off layoffs of over 150 days are 1 for 7 since 1972.

--On the other hand, Godolphin has been popping with one long-layoff returnee after another in recent weeks. Vineyard Haven finished first (dq'd to second) in the G1 King's Bishop off a 198-day layoff; Sara Louise won the G3 Victory Ride off a 273-day layoff, and Girolamo won a Saratoha N1x off a 309-day break.

Midshipman2

Midshipman faces one hurdle no other 2-year-old champion ever has: He will be making his first career start on dirt after racing only on Del Mar's Pro-Ride and Del Mar's Polytrack synthetic surfaces last year. Also, he has caught a small but salty field for his return: He is the third choice on the morning line at 3-1 in a field of six behind Storm Play (8-5, and coming off a 294-day layoff himself) and Just Ben (9-5), who have recorded top Beyer Speed Figures of 110 and 109, respectively. Midshipman's biggest Beyers as a 2-year-old were 91's in his debut and the BC Juvenile.