11/26/2014 8:16PM

Cassatt leads all the way in Zia Park Oaks

Coady Photography
Cassatt, ridden by Kerwin Clark, wins the Zia Park Oaks by 4 1/2 lengths Wednesday.

Cassatt put on a front-running show in the $300,000 Zia Park Oaks on Wednesday, withstanding pressure early and then turning it on late for a 4 1/2-length win over Thegirlinthatsong. It was another three lengths back to the favored Shanon Nicole in third.

The Zia Park Oaks was the richest race on the second annual Land of Enchantment card. There were seven stakes on the program worth a total of $1.1 million. The races included the $200,000 Zia Park Derby, won by Alert Bay.

Cassatt ($5.60) dueled with the Grade 1-placed Taste Like Candy through an opening half-mile in 46.46 seconds, then began to separate herself form her rivals through six furlongs in 1:10.08. From there, Cassatt was in control under Kerwin Clark, going on to cover the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.29. The performance impressed Larry Jones, who trains Cassatt for Fox Hill Farms. 

“It’s kind of what we have always felt about her,” Jones said. “We’ve always felt like she’s a very good horse. We’ve been really high on her ever since she was a 2-year-old. Hopefully, her career is coming underway, and we’ve settled down to the distance she needs to do.”

Jones said Cassatt has raced over a variety of distances in her young career for different reasons. She debuted at 1 1/16 miles, won her maiden at six furlongs, then captured a first-level allowance at five-eighths in her first start following a five-month layoff. Cassatt then became a stakes winner at 1 1/16 miles in the Grade 3 Monmouth Park Oaks in August.

“We couldn’t get a lot of races to go,” Jones said. “There were times she needed to race, we needed to get her back. It was tough getting her career going for her, and hopefully we’re now getting on a little smoother path to help her get her career along. We’re very high on her.”

Jones said the next goal for Cassatt is another 1 1/16-mile race, the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic at Sam Houston Race Park. Fox Hill and Jones won the race in 2013 with Joyful Victory. Cassatt, like Joyful Victory, is a daughter of Tapit.

Jones said Cassatt would return home to Fair Grounds on Thursday.

Cassatt earned $185,400 for her win in the Zia Park Oaks, improving her record to 4 for 7 with earnings of $339,233. She was bred in Kentucky by Mt Brilliant Farm.

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