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Kroy defeats Love Conquers in The Tortugas Stakes, photo copyrighted by Kenny Martin/Gulfstream Park

By Jim Freer
Midwest Thoroughbreds’ Kroy came out of the $75,000 Tortugas Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Saturday with his first stakes victory, and with his trainer Armando De La Cerda mapping plans for bigger stakes races.
Meanwhile, trainer Ron Spatz is making stakes plans for Tortugas second-place finisher Love Conquers.
The Tortugas was run on the turf at 7 ½ furlongs for 3-year-olds.
With Emisael Jaramillo riding, Kroy won in the fast time of 1:28.21 on the course listed as firm.
Kroy, a Florida-bred son of The Factor, beat Love Conquers by three-quarters of a length
Following a slow break from the starting gate, the Louisiana-bred Love Conquers rallied from last place after a half mile to finish second.
As noted below, it was a case of a $185,000 purchase holding off an $8,000 purchase.
He’s the One finished third in the eight-horse field, a length and a half behind Love Conquers.  It was another one and three quarters of a length back to fourth place finisher Durocher.
Kroy paid $4.20 to win.  The $2 exacta  paid $17.80.
For Kroy, Love Conquers and several other top finishers the Tortugas provided a possible preview for turf stakes later this summer at Gulfstream and at Gulfstream Park West in October and November.
De La Cerda said he expects the next race for Kroy will be the $100,000 Bear’s Den Stakes at Gulfstream on Sept. 23.  It will be one mile on turf for Florida-bred 3-year-olds.
The Bear’s Den is one of ten races in this year’s new spring-summer meet series of $100,000 stakes, sponsored and funded by the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association and by Gulfstream.
Six of the races, including the Bear’s Den, are for Florida-breds only.
The other four stakes are Florida-enhanced. They are open to horses bred in any state. But only Florida-breds are eligible for a portion of up to $25,000 in bonuses offered by the Florida HBPA,
In those enhanced races, a Florida-bred that wins receive a $17,500 bonus.  Florida-breds that finish second receive $5,000 and Florida breds that finish third receive $2,500.
De La Cerda also might consider Kroy for stakes races at tracks outside Florida.
“This is a nice horse,” he said. “He can run anywhere in the United States, not just Florida.”
The Tortugas was the first stakes for Kroy and for Love Conquers. Both are geldings.
Kroy earned a career-best Equibase Speed Figure of 106 and Love Conquers earned a career-best Equibase figure of 105.
Love Conquers and the other horses that faced Kroy in the Tortugas are still seeking their first stakes win.
As a Louisiana-bred, Love Conquers is not eligible for the Bear’s Den.
Spatz said he intends to next run Love Conquers in a turf stakes at Gulfstream, and hopes to find a race restricted to 3-year-olds.
Later this year and in 2018, Spatz plans to look for Louisiana-bred stakes races at Fair Grounds and other tracks in that state.
Race Review
Kroy was the even money favorite. Odds on the other top finishers were Love Conquers 5-1, He’s the One 9-1 and Durocher 9-2.
Coming into the Tortugas, Durocher had won four of six races this year on the Gulfstream turf and Love Conquers had won three of five races on the Gulfstream turf.
In his race prior to the Tortugas, Kroy won by 7 ¼ lengths in a one-mile $16,000 optional claimer on turf at Gulfstream on July 27.  He was one of ten starters in the race for Florida-breds 3-years-old and up.
That was the first race in which Kroy wore blinkers. De La Cerda kept them on Kroy for the Tortugas, and again the horse showed better focus than in previous races.
Kroy rated in third place through six furlongs. Racing’s My Game, who faded and finished last, set solid fractions of :23.23, 45.97 and 1:10:06.
Kroy took the lead an eighth of a mile from the wire and beat the slow-starting and late-charging Love Conquers by three-quarters of a length.
Love Conquers broke slowly and was in eighth and last place, by eight lengths, after a half mile. He then began his rally under jockey Miguel Vasquez.
Despite not winning, Spatz was far from disappointed with Love Conquers.
“I always knew he could be a strong finisher,” Spatz said.  “It looked like he may have hopped at the start.  That has never happened to him before. The rider did a good job in not rushing him. Just look at the way he passed those other horses.”
Love Conquers was third or better in eight of his eleven previous starts.
Spatz added that if Love Conquers has an untroubled start in his next race, he is confident that Vasquez will keep the horse from fighting for the early lead.
Breeding and Sales
The win was the third for Kroy in seven career starts. He is out of the Atticus mare Perla.
Kroy was bred by Mancher Hall and Milan Kasanovich.  Midwest Thoroughbreds purchased him for $185,000 at the Fasig-Tipton August 2015 sale at Saratoga.
Midwest Thoroughbreds is  owned  by Richard and  Karen Papiese.
Love Conquers has won four of twelve career starts. He is out of the Pine Bluff mare Love Catcher, and was bred by Cloyce Clark Jr.
Monarch Stables, owned by Frank Bertolino, purchased him for $8,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s June 2016 sale.