Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet; bake until toasted, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool, then transfer to a food processor. Add 1/4 cup sugar and pulse until coarsely ground. Drizzle the butter into the food processor and pulse until the mixture looks like wet sand. Press into the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan and bake until just beginning to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Put 1 cup of water in a baking dish and place in the lower third of the oven. This will create a sauna effect for your cheesecake to bake in.
Beat the cream cheese with a stand mixer until smooth. Add the remaining 1 cup sugar and mix until just combined, 2 to 3 minutes (don't overmix). Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and 3 teaspoons rose water and mix until smooth, about 1 minute. Pour into the crust. Place on the middle oven rack (above the water bath) and bake until the center is just set but still jiggles, about 35 minutes. Turn off the oven; let the cheesecake cool with the oven door cracked, 1 hour. Remove from the oven, cover and refrigerate until cool, about 4 hours.
Meanwhile, combine the strawberries, honey, lemon juice and the remaining 1 teaspoon rose water in a bowl. Cover and set aside while the cheesecake cools.
Slice the cheesecake; top with the strawberries. Eat while cheering on your favorite horse!
Photograph by Con Poulos
Recipe courtesy of Damaris Phillips for Food Network Magazine