12/28/2007 12:00AM

Country Diva best on course

EmailCountry Diva trains in Kentucky, but has done some of her best racing at Mountaineer Racetrack, where the 4-year-old filly has recorded 6 of her 10 lifetime wins and 3 of her 4 second-place finishes.

The only time in 10 starts locally that Country Diva didn't run at least second came in last year's New Year's Eve Stakes, where she was used up in a pace duel and faded to eighth as the 4-5 favorite.

Now that she's no longer a need-the-lead sprinter, Country Diva stands a good chance of making amends for her 2006 flop when she returns to Mountaineer for Sunday's closing-night feature, the $75,000 New Year's Eve.

The six-furlong New Year's Eve drew a full field of 12 fillies and mares, plus three also-eligibles.

This season alone, Country Diva has three wins and two narrow losses in five starts at Mountaineer, highlighted by a neck victory in the West Virginia Secretary of State on the West Virginia Derby undercard in August.

Perhaps most significantly, she has learned to relax and come from off the pace when the situation calls for that tactic. Country Diva rallied from fifth, 4 1/2 lengths behind after a quarter-mile, to win an allowance in October, earning a career-best

93 Beyer Speed Figure.

Trained by Mike Trivigno, who has been a sizzling 9 for 23 (39 percent) shipping into Mountaineer this season, Country Diva concedes 3 to

17 pounds as the 124-pound highweight.

Her most intriguing challenger might be the Canadian-based 5-year-old mare Roving Angel. Although 5 of her

6 career wins have come on dirt, Roving Angel has raced exclusively on Polytrack at Woodbine in her last 10 starts.

The last time Roving Angel raced on dirt at her home track, she won the Belle Mahone in August 2006 with a 93 Beyer.

Two others who merit consideration are Ballad of Bertie and Jules for A.J.

Ballad of Bertie is 4 for 8 in her career at Mountaineer, including a win in an allowance sprint two starts ago and a victory in the one-mile Golden Sylvia Handicap in June. She was beaten eight lengths the last time she faced Country Diva.

Jules for A.J., a winner of 13 races and $324,439, ships in from New York to make her first start for trainer Mark Hubley, who is 3 for 9 at Mountaineer this season.