04/14/2005 12:00AM

Ruby Dawn's been here, done this


AUBURN, Wash. - Ruby Dawn will try to reprise her opening act at last year's meeting when she meets six other older fillies and mares in Saturday's Emerald Downs feature, a 5 1/2-furlong race to be run under $40,000 optional claiming conditions.

Ruby Dawn, a 5-year-old daughter of Pioneering from the barn of trainer Dan Markle, came out in a similar spot on the first Saturday of last year's meeting, and she upset the heavily favored Lasting Code.

Ruby Dawn won that day by a length over runner-up Lasting Code, who is now retired, covering the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:02.80.

As was the case last year, Ruby Dawn has been off since September. In her last start, she ran a bang-up third to Aunt Sophie in the Belle Roberts Handicap at 1 1/16 miles. She has trained extremely well, producing a sizzling five-furlong workout in 57.60 seconds on April 7, and proved last year that she can fire her best shot off the long layoff.

Among those chasing Ruby Dawn home in last year's initial Saturday feature was Marva Jean, who finished fourth. A 5-year-old daughter of West by West who is trained by Frank Lucarelli, Marva Jean is back to try again on Saturday, and figures prominently off two sharp efforts at Turf Paradise in November.

Marva Jean finished a close second going six furlongs against $30,000 optional claimers, then ran third in the 5 1/2-furlong Excess Energy Handicap before closing out her time at Phoenix with an unplaced effort on turf.

Also dangerous are Swingn' Notes, a double stakes winner going long last year at Emerald, and Arco Iris, who closed out her 3-year-old campaign with a victory in the one-mile John and Kitty Fletcher Stakes.