06/18/2003 12:00AM

'Melcap' goes for 3 in a row


AUBURN, Wash. - Melcapwalker shoots for a third consecutive win when he takes on seven challengers in Friday's top offering, a 1 1/16-mile race for older runners eligible to be claimed for $16,000 to $14,000.

With an impost of 123 pounds, including rider Scott Saito, Melcapwalker will concede from 2 to 9 pounds to his rivals. Nevertheless, he figures to be formidable off a pair of ultra-game wins over $12,500 and $16,000 company at a mile. In both of those scores, which came May 26 and June 5, Melcapwalker set all the fractions and turned back bids from Bucko Wins to prevail by a neck.

Melcapwalker, who is trained by Bud Klokstad for Art McFadden, again figures to show the way after breaking from the inside post, but he can expect pressure from Fit to Be Royal.

Fit to Be Royal, a 6-year-old son of Wavering Monarch from the barn of Sharon Ross, came back from a six-week layoff to set the pace in $25,000 company at a mile on May 24. He weakened only slightly to finish fourth, beaten just over two lengths by Yesss. With the drop in class and a recent race, Fit to Be Royal figures to be hard to shake under Gary Baze at 119 pounds.

Should Melcapwalker and Fit to Be Royal dispute the early issue too fiercely, Hastings Park invader Nomisstaken Kris could be the one to benefit most. Nomisstaken Kris finished fast for third in a 1 1/16- mile race for $25,000 claimers at Hastings on June 7 and will get in under only 114 pounds on Friday with apprentice Nicola Wright riding.