01/05/2006 1:00AM

Travelator debuts for O'Connell


OLDSMAR, Fla. - Travelator, who lost her rider at the start of the Garland of Roses at Aqueduct in her most recent start, heads a well-matched field of 12 older fillies and mares in the $60,000 Minaret Stakes at six furlongs Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs.

will be making her first start for trainer Kathleen O'Connell. Travel-ator faces several strong challengers, including Emerald Earrings, a stakes-placed runner in middle-distance stakes last season who is shifting back to a sprint, and Running Bobcats, who won the Sophomore Fillies Stakes here on Florida Cup Day last meet.

Travelator lost all chance in the Garland of Roses when she stumbled leaving the starting gate and unseated Aaron Gryder. A 6-year-old New York-bred daughter of

A. P Jet, Travelator had a successful year in 2005, winning 3 of 12 starts and $210,336. She has won 12 of 33 career starts.

Each of her three wins last year came in stakes company. She rallied from well back to win the five-furlong Candy Eclair at Monmouth, came back next out to win the six-furlong West Long Branch, then defeated statebreds in the Schenectady Handicap at Belmont Park two starts later. She also ran third in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom at Belmont. Daniel Centeno has the mount.

has been freshened since September after spending much of the summer racing in graded-stakes company in New York and New Jersey.

Trained by Bruce Alexander, Emerald Earrings ran third in the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher at Monmouth and a close third in the Grade 3 Matchmaker on the turf at Monmouth. A sprinter earlier in her career, Emerald Earrings has been training smartly over the Tampa strip and is 2 for 3 at this distance.

Running Bobcats, a 4-year-old daughter of Running Stag, rallied from just off the pace to win the Sophomore Fillies here last meeting and returns to the main track after running 11th at 67-1 in the Frances A. Genter on the turf at Calder a week ago.