12/21/2014 9:41AM

Heuston fends off challengers for victory in Prairie Bayou

Coady Photography
Heuston wins the Prairie Bayou Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths Saturday at Turfway Park.

Heuston, ridden by Rodney Prescott, fought off all challengers for a hard-earned victory Saturday night in the $53,950 Prairie Bayou Stakes at Turfway Park in northern Kentucky.

A 5-year-old Irish-bred gelding, Heuston returned $11.80 as the fourth choice in a field of nine after finishing the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:45.46 over Polytrack.

The early scratches of the two expected speed horses, Cerro and Vanity Feature, led to little pace in the Prairie Bayou, with Heuston winding up near the front the entire trip. He put away the longshots Aitutaki and Jaz N Tap, then held off four others down the stretch.

Cozy Kitten finished a neck behind the winner but was disqualified to fifth for interfering with his Mike Maker-trained stablemate, Joha. In My Book was placed second, Puppy Manners third, and Joha fourth. The margin from Heuston to Joha was just 1 1/4 lengths.

Trained by Conor Murphy for his own Riverside Bloodstock and partner Dan Beaty, Heuston now has won twice since being imported to the U.S. He was coming off a victory in a first-level turf allowance at Churchill Downs.

Murphy, a former stable lad in his native Ireland, has parlayed winning a $1.5 million “accumulator” bet in England in March 2012 into his own stable in America. Based at the Skylight training center just east of Louisville, Murphy, 30, won his first race as a trainer in 2013 and now has won a total of 10 races, three of them stakes. His other two stakes wins have come with Dimension, who ran 12th in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in his last start.

The Prairie Bayou was the second and last stakes of a 16-day holiday meet that ends Dec. 31. The three-month winter-spring meet starts Jan. 1, with the first of seven stakes, the Wintergreen, set for Jan. 3.