01/01/2007 12:00AM

Excellerant surprises heavy favorite


Excellerant ($14.40) put away 4-5 favorite Country Diva at the top of the stretch and drew off to earn her first stakes victory, scoring by 3 3/4 lengths in the $75,000 New Year's Eve at Mountaineer Race Track.

Ridden by Hector Rosario Jr. for trainer William Connelly, Excellerant ws coming off a troubled trip last time out in the Holiday Inaugural at Turfway Park. Her previous best performance in a stakes came when she was a distant second in the $100,000 OBS Championship for fillies at the Ocala Training Center.

Shari's Gold Sole nosed out Miss Hamma for second. Country Diva, never worse than second in four previous starts locally, tired badly in the final furlong to finish eighth.

The winning time for six furlongs was 1:12.50.