01/26/2011 5:41PM

Royal Taat makes East Coast debut at Gulfstream


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – It has been more than two years since Royal Taat has seen the winner’s circle. With a little break from the weatherman, the once-stakes-caliber mare might finally have her picture taken again after Friday’s $55,000 main event at Gulfstream Park, which is scheduled for five furlongs on the grass.

Royal Taat, who finished fourth and fifth in graded stakes company last fall in California, has not won since rallying from far back to capture a third-level allowance race at Santa Anita on Jan.  14, 2009. Trained by John Sadler at the time, Royal Taat will make her East Coast debut under the tutelage of James DiVito on Friday.

“Richard sent me this mare from California because he felt the competition was a little too tough for her out there,” said DiVito, referring to owner Richard Templer, who races under the nom de course of the Doubledown Stables Inc.

Unfortunately, heavy rain on Tuesday night raised the possibility that Friday’s feature could wind up being moved to the main track.

“Hopefully we won’t get any more rain between now and post time,” DiVito said on Wednesday. “Even though she’s trained well over the main track, I wouldn’t think I’d run her on dirt.”

Royal Taat has made 22 of her 23 career starts on grass, the other over the synthetic surface at Del Mar.

“I don’t know if five-eighths is the right distance for her because she’s really a come from behind sprinter,” said DiVito. “But that’s all we have for her here.”

DiVito would be happy if Royal Taat’s first local start goes as well as it did for Dee’s Rose, who looks like the one to beat in this spot. Dee’s Rose, who had done the bulk of her racing in the Midwest before being claimed for $32,000 by trainer Tammy Domenosky at Keeneland on Oct. 23, overcame some trouble and a wide trip to defeat $50,000 claimers by a widening 1 1/2 lengths on Jan. 8.

Yes It’s Valid finished second behind Dee’s Rose in her maiden voyage over the local course earlier this month and won’t have to wait long for the rematch. Yes It’s Valid, equipped with blinkers for the first time, edged clear leaving the eighth pole before proving no match for Dee’s Rose in the pair’s previous meeting.

Rose Diamond, fourth in the Grade 1 La Brea in December 2009, was shipped here from California last April by trainer Patrick Biancone and finished fourth in the South Beach Stakes. She has not started since.