11/02/2002 12:00AM

Unlimited Value coasts in Sprint

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Unlimited Value scored a front-running victory in Saturday's $150,000 California Cup Sprint in a performance that was aided by the fatal breakdown of his early pace rival, Rio Oro.

Unlimited Value and Rio Oro sped through a 21.28-second opening quarter-mile, but as the field neared the midway point on the far turn, Rio Oro, racing along the rail, broke his left front leg.

Rio Oro stayed upright for a few strides, then went down, pitching jockey Kent Desormeaux forward. The 34-1 longshot McCordnskuba, ridden by Isaias Enriquez, tripped over the fallen Rio Oro and also went down.

Both riders walked away from the incident under their own power, as did McCordnskuba. Rio Oro's injuries, however, resulted in his being euthanized on the racetrack.

After battling with Rio Oro for half of the six-furlong race, Unlimited Value suddenly found himself alone on the lead nearing the top of the stretch.

Unlimited Value passed the quarter pole in 43.76 seconds for a half-mile, had a four-length lead at midstretch, and coasted home 3 1/4 lengths best in 1:08.35 on the fast main track.

Treasured Note, a 13-1 shot, was second, one length in front of third-place Con Quixote. Stormy Jack, the 6-5 favorite, was fourth in a dull performance.

The victory was the second of the day for both owner John Harris's Harris Farms Inc. and trainer Carla Gaines, who scored earlier with Super High in the Cal Cup Matron.

For the winning jockey, Patrick Valenzuela, it was his third victory on the card.

Unlimited Value ($15.60), a 6-year-old gelding by Present Value, has had a successful, though injury-riddled, career. He was racing for only the 13th time on Saturday, and notched his seventh victory, his first in a stakes race. He came back in August after a 17-month layoff, and is now 2 for 3 since his return.