04/11/2015 3:11PM

Katie's Eyes surprises in Giant's Causeway

Coady Photography
Katie's Eyes, under jockey Florent Geroux, wins the Giant's Causeway Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths Saturday.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Until Saturday, the only stakes victory for Katie’s Eyes had come in a restricted race for horses with a Mississippi connection. But her profile changed substantially when the Kentucky-bred filly rolled to victory in the $100,000 Giant’s Causeway on the Keeneland turf, defeating a couple of top female turf sprinters in the process.

Ridden by Florent Geroux, Katie’s Eyes laid off the pace set by 103-1 shot Fioretti before firing to the front inside the furlong pole and drawing clear late to win by 2 1/2 lengths over Ageless, the 2-1 second choice. Runway Ready was third, while Free as a Bird, the 3-2 favorite, had a six-stakes win streak snapped when finishing fourth.

Katie’s Eyes, a 4-year-old filly by Leroidesanimaux, paid $29 after finishing the 5 1/2-furlong distance in 1:02.78. She is owned by Ike and Dawn Thrash and trained by Mike Stidham.

“I thought maybe we were biting off a little more than we could chew,” said Stidham. “But Mr. Thrash said this is where he wanted to go, and it’s where we landed. I’m glad we did.”

Katie’s Eyes was making her first start since winning back-to-back turf sprints in January at Fair Grounds. She ran in two graded stakes last spring, finishing third in both, after winning an obscure Fair Grounds stakes restricted to owners from the South Mississippi Owners and Breeders Association.

It was an accomplished group behind her in the Giant’s Causeway: Ageless and Free as a Bird, both multiple stakes winners with combined earnings of more than $1 million, were the respective one-two finishers in this race last year.

After the top four, the order was Henny Jenney, Fioretti, Gal About Town, Sweet Nkosi, Jewel of a Cat, and Richies Party Girl. Believe in Charlie and On the Backstreets were early scratches.

The $2 exacta (8-4) paid $136.20, the $1 trifecta (8-4-6) returned $1,031.70, and the 10-cent superfecta (8-4-6-11) was worth $293.

Geroux escaped injury earlier in the day when thrown at the start of the third race aboard longshot Purgenality, who also was not hurt.