The Great Britain-bred 5-year-old Darshaan mare was roused mid-stretch with strong right-handed urging by Velazquez and responded by repelling second choice My Typhoon for a 1 3/4-length win. In winning her third successive race in 2007, Cassydora earned her first graded stakes victory. She was group I placed in Goodwood's Nassau Stakes (Eng-I) in 2005 then went to the sidelines after an 11th-place showing in Woodbine's 2005 E.P. Taylor Stakes (Can-I). She returned with an allowance win at Gulfstream Park Jan. 11.
Cassydora was coming off a three-length win the Endeavor Stakes in similar front-running fashion over the Tampa grass course Feb. 17. She carried high weight of 122 pounds Saturday while completing the 1 1/8-mile distance in a solid 1:48 4/5 over firm going.
Pletcher and Velazquez won the Florida Oaks a race earlier with Cotton Blossom.
The trainer said that Cassydora generally prefers to settle behind leaders. Her front-running style Saturday, he said, was, “just circumstance. The fractions were pretty slow (:24 4/5, :49 35, 1:13 1/5) and there wasn’t much pace. She’s headstrong. Any time you get good fillies in a race like that, it’s tough. It was a big effort for her.”
The victory, her fifth in 11 lifetime starts, was worth $90,000, boosting her earnings to $337,466.
She paid $4.80, $2.80 and $2.40. My Typhoon, making her first appearance since finishing sixth in the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) in November, returned $3.20 and $2.60. It was one length back to third-place finisher Masseuse, ridden by Elvis Trujillo, paying $4.20.
Rich in Spirit finished fourth, followed by South African-bred Jacaranda Jane, Warrior Girl, On a Cloud, Shared Dreams and Marge S. Chic Dancer scratched.