Gronkowski will not be running in the 144th Kentucky Derby after coming down with a fever. According to ESPN, the horse — named after New England Patriots tight end, Rob Gronkowski — was unable to travel to Churchill Downs in Kentucky, because of illness.
Gronkowski (the horse) won the Burradon Stakes at Newcastle, England, which landed him a spot in the Kentucky Derby. His owners, trainers, and namesake, Rob Gronkowski were super excited to see what this horse was going to do come Derby day, but sadly, Gronk and company will have to wait a few more weeks.
“It’s unfortunate Gronkowski the horse will not be able to race in the upcoming Kentucky Derby due to an illness. I fully support what is best for the horse. I know he will come back strong and healthy and I am excited to see him race again very soon,” Rob Gronkowski tweeted on April 23.
The announcement was also made via Phoenix Thoroughbred, which owns the horse.
Gronkowski (the human) is himself no stranger to sitting out of big events due to injury and illness. According to the Boston Globe, he missed three games for the University of Arizona in 2008 after coming down with mononucleosis and sat out his entire junior year in 2009 after undergoing surgery for a bulging disk in his back. As a pro, for the Patriots, Gronkowski has had at least seven injuries that have cause him to leave games or miss time. He finished the 2016 season on the Injured Reserve list and had to sit out during the Patriots’ historic comeback win in Super Bowl LI.
All is not lost for Gronkowski (the horse), however. His owners had no intentions of having him be a one-race kind of horse. They are already looking ahead to the Belmont Stakes, which will be held on Saturday, June 9, in Elmont, New York. It is unknown why Gronkowski won’t be participating in the Preakness, which will be held on May 19.
As for Rob Gronkowski, expect him to be on-hand to watch the race at Belmont Park. Not only is he a huge horse-racing fan (he attends the Kentucky Derby nearly every year), but he’s definitely going to want to watch his namesake take to the track on his very first huge stage. Obviously Gronkowski (the human) and the rest of those rooting for Gronkowski (the horse) are hoping he can enjoy similar success in recovering from illness and injury as the football player for whom he was named.
“This horse is a winner, and I love a winner. When I heard about the racehorse being named after me, I started watching and got really stoked when he started winning. He’s won his last three races and is now headed to the Derby. I’m all in: Welcome to the Gronk Family, Gronkowski the Horse,” Gronkowski previously said in a statement, as reported by the Boston Globe.
“It’s great to partner with Rob,” said Phoenix founder and CEO Amer Abdulaziz.
Curious as to why anyone would name a horse after a football player?
“Kerri Radcliffe, an English bloodstock agent who bought the horse for Phoenix Thoroughbreds in April 2017, said the horse is named after the man because the colt ‘looks like a tight end,’” according to the Boston Globe.
Source: Heavy Sports