11/19/2009 12:00AM

Perfect distance for Royal Taat


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - In her 10 races in this country since being imported from her native New Zealand, Royal Taat owns 3 wins in 8 starts sprinting on grass and is 0 for 2 going around two turns. After her most recent race, when she finished 11th of 14 in the one-mile Las Palmas Handicap across town on the turf at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting, the verdict came in.

"Only sprints," her trainer, John Sadler, said Wednesday morning.

"We had a sneaking suspicion before her last race, and that confirmed it," Sadler said. "She's a much better sprinter."

Royal Taat returns to her favorite game Friday night at Hollywood Park, when she meets four others in the night's richest race, a $47,000 allowance going six furlongs on turf. Because of the small field, it is presented earlier in the night, the third race on an eight-race card that begins at 7:05 p.m. Pacific.

Royal Taat likes to sit back and blast home, a style that has served her well in two prior starts at Hollywood Park. Last fall, nearly one year ago to the day, she closed furiously in a similar five-horse field going six furlongs to beat a second-level allowance field. This past summer, she returned from a five-month vacation and just missed by a nose while finishing in a dead heat for second in the Great Lady M. Handicap.

"She came flying late in that race, and the rails were out, which usually carries speed," Sadler said. "Five-eighths at Del Mar is a little short, but six here, or 6 1/2 at Santa Anita, is perfect. Now she's in the right spot. I think she'll be tough."

Reba Is Tops, who finished in that dead heat for second with Royal Taat in the Great Lady M. in June, is back for another go-round with that familiar rival. This will be the fourth time they have met in the last five months. Reba Is Tops, a remarkably consistent mare, had an uncharacteristic sixth-place finish in the Ken Maddy Handicap in her last start, which broke an 11-race streak in which she finished in the money.

"Her throat was bugging her a little bit before that race," trainer Mark Glatt said Wednesday morning. "We got it cleared up in time, but I don't think she was at her best."

Lindelaan looks like a live invader from New York. She finished a troubled third in a turf sprint at Belmont Park in her last start, her first race following a two-month freshening.

Rainbow's Song and Annihilation finished second and third in a similar allowance turf sprint at Oak Tree last time out.