According to trainer Jeremy Noseda, Gronkowski has been forced to withdraw from the 2018 Kentucky Derby. The thoroughbred, which is named after and partially owned by New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, reportedly came down with a fever over the weekend.
Gronkowski, the player, bought stock in the 3-year-old colt last Thursday despite the fact that he has not yet met the horse in person. The horse has still yet to win a race on a dirt track despite being a perfect 3-0 on synthetic tracks in the United Kingdom.
Gronkowski, the horse, was named after the player because it is “big and strong” and stands 6’5″ tall, just like the player, per a press release. The horse’s management team, Phoenix Thoroughbred, announced his withdrawal from the Kentucky Derby on Monday afternoon.
The horse reportedly is not healthy enough to make the lengthy journey to Lexington. He was originally scheduled to make the trip to Kentucky this coming weekend, but the illness threw plans out of wack.
Gronkowski was listed as something of a long shot due to the fact that he hasn’t ever run on dirt, nor has he even run more than a mile during a race. The colt qualified for the Run for the Roses by winning the Listed Burradon Stakes in Newcastle, England, in March.
Gronkowski’s most recent odds came in at 50-1 to win the Derby, which put him among other long shots like Combatant (50-1), Free Drop Billy (50-1) and Firenze Fire (60-1).
Gronkowski wasn’t the only horse in the Derby field with ties to the National Football League. Lone Sailor (25-1) is owned by Gayle Benson, the widow of late New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans owner Tom Benson.
In a statement, Phoenix Thoroughbred director Tom Ludt said, “We are beyond disappointed that Gronkowski will miss the Kentucky Derby. To have a Derby contender with our first group of 3-year-olds was a dream come true, and to have had New England Patriots star Rob Gronkowski join us on that journey made it even more exciting.”
“But we must put the welfare of the horse first and we will look forward to the colt recovering quickly and to his future races,” he added.
The 144th running of the Kentucky Derby will take place at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 5.
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