09/17/2009 3:46PM

Midshipman's Return


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.


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.