Alysheba is the best colt in today's Belmont Stakes, and, as much on faith as on logic, he should become horse racing's 12th Triple Crown winner.
For sure, the son of Alydar runs better with the diuretic Lasix. His last three races prove that. And today he runs drug-free.
Other colts, such as Gate Dancer in 1984 and Codex in 1980, couldn't be found on the board in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont after winning the Preakness with the aid of Lasix. Time and again it has been proven: a horse who needs Lasix is at a distinct disadvantage without it. Remember Spend a Buck?
However, I am picking Alysheba to win today because I believe that an alternative method exists for treating horses with such breathing problems.
King's Swan, a notorious bleeder, runs often and succesfully in New York, obviously without Lasix since it is not allowed there. The reasoning here is that there could be a new, legal alternative to Lasix. And if that is so, trainer Jack Van Berg will have found out about it and will utilize it.
Dwelling on the use or lack of use of a drug in a race is uncomfortable. But the issue surfaced when the drug was permitted elsewhere a dozen or so years ago and now must be considered a prime handicapping factor.
Bet Twice, a gem of consistency, is my second pick. He certainly should be a force in the Belmont, having run second to Alysheba in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness without any help. True, he will be running 1 1/2 miles for the first time, but so are the others.
Cryptoclearance and Gone West, two strong contenders, are suspect at the distance due to their running style and record, and the capable Gulch has erratic form.
If there is a sleeper, it is Shawklit Won, a colt who ran well in early April, then looked shopworn in his next two starts. His best race can produce an upset, especially if Alysheba stumbles without Lasix. Shawklit One will be ridden by Angel Cordero Jr., and that is a plus if the race is close at the finish.
I see Alyseheba stalking the pace of Bet Twice and Avies Copy, then taking over and holding the lead to the wire in 2:28 2/5.