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Post Time: Gronkowski purchases stake in Derby namesake

There’s never a dull moment in Gronk Nation.

Gronkowski, the horse, has a new owner with the same name.

Perennial All-Pro tight end and Western New York native Rob Gronkowski acquired a stake in the 3-year-old colt headed to the Kentucky Derby to run for the roses on May 5 at Churchill Downs. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Phoenix Thoroughbreds Ltd. joined with the Patriots star entering a partnership arrangement involving the thoroughbred race horse headed for Louisville in 10 days.

The colt qualified for the Derby winning the Burradon Stakes at Newcastle Racecourse in March, earning an automatic bid to the first leg of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown.

Known for his youthful exuberance, the two-time Super Bowl champ is ecstatic to be part of the team.

“This horse is a winner and I love a winner,” Gronkowski said in a press release. “When I heard about the racehorse being named after me, I started watching and got really stoked when he started winning. I’m all in: Welcome to the Gronk family, Gronkowski the Horse! ...

“I really can’t think of anything cooler than having a top-class thoroughbred named after me, except maybe having him win the Derby.”

The son of Lonhro was bred in Kentucky out of a Lookin at Lucky mare and has won four of six lifetime starts. Lookin at Lucky won the Preakness in 2010, so the bloodlines are there to be a threat on Derby day.

Named by bloodstock agent Kerri Radcliffe, the colt is trained by Jeremy Noseda, and is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs on April 28. He will be greeted by the whole Gronkowski clan in Louisville during the first week in May.

Gordie Gronkowski, Rob’s father couldn’t be happier for his son. Reached by telephone by The News, the family patriarch can’t wait to get to Louisville.

“It’s going to be fun,” said the elder Gronkowski. “To see your name running on the track at the Kentucky Derby.  It’s something different, I’ll tell you that. I’ve lived through a lot of stuff, but this is on top of the list right now.”

Like his namesake the colt has a fairly laid-back demeanor according to his conditioner. “I’m delighted with him, he’s a lovely straight-forward horse to deal with,” Noseda told the Tattersalls. “By the time he clears quarantine in America and starts training it will be Tuesday morning (Apr. 30).”

One hurdle, the horse will have to climb is handling the surface at Churchill Downs, not to mention the 150,000-plus screaming fans. It will be Gronkowski’s first race on dirt.

“We will find out if he goes on the dirt or not, I’m fairly confident he’ll do it well,” said Noseda. “No matter how much you train them, they either handle the surface or they don’t.”

The trainer is looking forward to meeting the human Gronk. Ironically, the football player stands an inch taller than the horse at 6 feet 6 inches.

“I don’t know if the horse is looking forward to it, but I’m definitely looking forward to meeting Gronkowski the man," Noseda said. "It’ll be a huge day and possibly a day that will open up horse racing to a different level of sports fan with the NFL being the most high-profile sport in America.

Reached via text, Dubai-based businessman and founder of Phoenix Thoroughbreds, Amer Abdulaziz echoed Noseda’s sentiments. “I am sure the audience will love it,” texted Abdulaziz.

With Gronkowski’s involvement in one of America’s most high profile events, it can only enhance the “cool factor” racing so desperately seeks outside of the three classics and the Breeders’ Cup.

The question looming in everyone’s mind is what kind of spike the Gronk has teed up should his namesake cross the wire first under the iconic Twin Spires of Churchill Downs?

Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association and tweets @EquiSpace.

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