06/05/2003 12:00AM

Ruby's Reception a strong favorite

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ALTOONA, Iowa - Ruby's Reception will be an odds-on choice when she faces six rivals in Saturday's $50,000 Panthers Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Prairie Meadows.

Ruby's Reception rallied to a 2 1/2-length victory in the Grade 2 Fantasy at Oaklawn Park April 11. Trainer Larry Jones was pointing Ruby's Reception for the Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico but passed on the race after the filly came down with a minor illness.

Ruby's Reception, a daughter of Rubiano, worked six furlongs in a bullet 1:11.99 here May 24, signaling she is ready to return to the races. Overall, Ruby's Reception sports a record of 4-3-1 from 9 career starts and $344,230 in earnings - more than the rest of her Panthers rivals combined. Terry Thompson has a return call aboard Ruby's Reception in Saturday's one-mile Panthers.

Surprisingly, Ruby's Reception is not the only graded stakes winner in the Panthers field. Moonlight Sonata, who scored a 60-1 upset while winning her maiden in the Grade 3 Arlington Washington Lassie last September at Arlington Park, is the other.

Following the Lassie, Moonlight Sonata rallied to finish third in a 1 1/16-mile grass stakes at Keeneland last October.

In her only start this year, Moonlight Sonata ran an even fifth against allowance company in a six-furlong allowance race at Churchill Downs May 17. Joe Johnson will ride Moonlight Sonata for the first time in the Panthers. She is trained by Bill Helmbrecht.