Jun 10, 2001 8:23 PM

Point Given cruised to an easy win in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, coming one race shy of the Triple Crown.

The Bob Baffert-trained colt, ridden by Gary Stevens, demolished runner-up A P Valentine by 12 1/4 lengths. Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos ran a distant third.

It was the first Belmont win for Baffert, who missed Triple Crown victories with Silver Charm in 1997 and Real Quiet in 1998. Both horses finished second.

Point Given, who also won the Preakness, the second leg of thoroughbred racing's most revered feat, was favored in all three races.

His Belmont time of 2 minutes, 26 2/5 seconds equaled the fourth-fastest running in the 133-year history of the race.

He paid $4.70, $3.70 and $3.