Updated on 09/15/2011 1:24PM

By any measure, it was stunning


ELMONT, N.Y. - A brilliant performance.

We haven't seen many better efforts in Triple Crown competition than the one turned in by Point Given in Saturday's 133rd Belmont Stakes. Competing against several leading representatives of what has been judged to be a superior crop of 3-year-olds, Point Given was completly dominant. He moved when he wanted to move, steamrollered the leaders, and drew away from the closers to score by 12 1/4 lengths. Timed in 2:26.56, his mile and a half was one of the five fastest Belmonts.

The field of seven on the huge Belmont track left little opportunity for excuses. Despite the acknowledged rigors of the classic trail, the principals appeared to train well into the Belmont.

There was little to detract from Point Given's arresting achievement. He was a solid favorite but it is now obvious that he is better than that, as Gary Stevens suggested in post-race remarks. Trainer Bob Baffert also notes that there is room for further improvement.

How good a horse is Point Given? A truer measure will probably be available this fall, after the 3-year-olds have had a chance to run with the older horses. The handicap division looks stronger than usual, and it will be interesting to see how Point Given stacks up. In the interim, Prince Ahmed Salman can be very proud of his talented colt; doubly so, for he is a homebred.

Was his failure to win the Kentucky Derby a serious mark against Point Given? Not in this view. Monarchos is a very good colt and the Derby unnfolded to suit him perfectly, just as it did for Dark Star in 1953. Native Dancer's people agonized over the missed opportunity, but Dancer won the remainder of his races and went on to glory as one of America's greatest horses.

The Belmont, which attracted a splendid crowd of 73,412, was a fitting climax to a rousing Triple Crown campaign.

The three classics sparked nationwide interest in racing, which reflected in dramatic television ratings and expanded coverage. The Triple Crown is racing's proudest hour and most valuable possession.

Will we ever have another Triple Crown winner? They were asking the same question in 1972 after Riva Ridge won the Derby and Belmont and missed in the Preakness. There had been no sweep of the classics since 1948 and many despaired, but Secretariat won all three the following year, closely followed by Seattle Slew and Affirmed.

It will happen that way again.