12/11/2003 12:00AM

Maryland duo takes on locals


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - A pair of stakes-winning fillies from Maryland, Gazillion and Wilzada, take on a solid local contingent in Saturday's $75,000-added Garland of Roses Handicap at Aqueduct.

Gazillion and Wilzada pack 119 pounds each as the highweights in the Garland of Roses, a six-furlong race that drew a field of nine fillies and mares. They will face several tough New York-based horses, including Shawklit Mint, Travelator, and Literary Light.

Gazillion has won her last three starts, including the seven-furlong Stefanita Stakes at Laurel Park on Nov. 15. She might find six furlongs too short, even though she has won three races at the distance.

"She's probably best at seven-eighths," said trainer Hamilton Smith. "I just hope she takes to the track up there. She has run most of her races at Laurel."

Wilzada, the Stefanita favorite, finished fourth after setting the pace, and she should appreciate one less furlong. On Jan. 1, Wilzada controlled the pace in the six-furlong Interborough Handicap over Aqueduct's inner track and won the race by five lengths in the slop.

Among the local runners is Grade 2 winner Shawklit Mint. Earlier this year, Shawklit Mint won four races in a row, including back-to-back starts over inner track and the Vagrancy Handicap at Belmont Park. Shawklit Mint received a 2 1/2-month freshening after finishing sixth in the Honorable Miss at Saratoga on Aug. 1. She returned in the fall and lost two starts, but she should run better in her third start off the layoff.

Norberto Arroyo Jr. rides Shawklit Mint from post 2.

Literary Light has faced some tough opponents this year and finds a good spot to try for her first stakes win. She comes off a win in the mud in an allowance race Nov. 6. Jose Santos picks up the mount on Literary Light, who figures to be among the early leaders.

"I think Santos's style will fit her beautifully," said trainer Richard Schosberg. "She likes to use her natural speed to get position."

Travelator, 3, has earned $247,657 this year and hasn't finished worse than fourth in 11 starts. She gets a break in the weights and carries 112 pounds.

Travelator, who will be ridden by Aaron Gryder, worked a half-mile in 47.24 seconds Tuesday over Belmont's training track. It was the fastest of 36 works at the distance.