07/09/2001 11:00PM

W. Virginia jockey set for debut


AUBURN, Wash. - Jockey Dave McFadden will make his Emerald Downs debut Thursday when he rides five mounts, including Royal Fun in the featured eighth race.

McFadden is coming to Emerald from West Virginia's Mountaineer Park, where he has been riding in recent years. McFadden, 23, currently ranks 13th in the Mountaineer standings with 38 wins from 407 mounts for $639,688 in purse earnings. For his career, which began in April 1996, McFadden has won with 787 of 5,265 mounts for nearly $6 million in purse earnings.

According to agent Chris Ecklund, who will handle McFadden's book, the rider intends to stay at Emerald for four to six weeks before moving on to ride at the northern California tracks. His arrival is timely, as Miguel Perez will be absent from the rest of the Emerald season after fracturing his collarbone in a spill last Friday. Perez, who was the track's second-leading rider last year, is 10th in the current standings with 21 wins.

Royal Fun is one of seven 3-year-old fillies who will contest Thursday's feature, a 6 1/2-furlong race for $25,000 to $22,500 claimers who have not won two races. Royal Fun just missed in a first-level allowance race at six furlongs two races back, and a repeat of that performance might be good enough.

Other contenders include Michelle's Cap and Ice Cream Social, who are both racing in sharp form. Michelle's Cap has a win and a second from two starts at the meeting, while Ice Cream Social has never been worse than third in five career starts.