Gronkowski is a step closer to competing in the Kentucky Derby.
The horse won the Kentucky Derby Conditions Stake on Wednesday night at Kempton Park in southwest London, giving Gronkowski 20 qualification points for the first race of the Triple Crown at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
Gronkowski, the player, actually played the role of a horse this season. After Patriots wide receiver Brandin Cooks caught a touchdown pass in team’s 35-17 win over the Miami Dolphins, he jumped on Gronk’s back and rode him like a horse. Gronkowski said after the game that the coaching staff yelled at the two for the celebration.
No team is more present at the Triple Crown races than the Patriots. Last year, the team’s contingent at the Derby included quarterbacks Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo and wide receiver Julian Edelman.
In 2014, then Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker famously handed out $100 bills after winning more than $50,000. Churchill Downs later said an error resulted in significantly overpaying him.
Gronkowski himself last showed up at the Kentucky Derby, in a plaid design suit no less, in 2015.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick became a horse racing fan as an assistant coach for the New York Giants coaching under thoroughbred owner Bill Parcells.
When the Patriots started the 2001 season with a 1-3 record, Belichick, according to industry trade Bloodhorse, showed the team Tiznow’s incredible down-the-stretch victory at that year’s Breeder’s Cup Classic to motivate them. The Patriots went on to win their first Super Bowl that season as Brady replaced an injured Drew Bledsoe.
Gronkowski now has a career record of 3-0.
Only two British horses have won the “Run For The Roses,” the last being Tomy Lee in 1959.