Name value alone can have everything to do with betting on the Kentucky Derby, and that’s one of the reasons that a colt named after a football player has generated so much intrigue. Gronkowski, who’s namesake is the tight end for the New England Patriots, made waves at Kempton Park in the 2018 Road to Kentucky Derby Conditions Stakes by winning in stride. Though there were rumours about him venturing stateside for the Blue Grass or the Wood Memorial, which are both on April 7th, the American born horse will remain home in England and compete in the upcoming 2018 Burradon Stakes.
The reason is actually quite humorous: trainer Jeremy Noseda believed (as did I to be honest) that Kentucky Derby points were transferrable between continents. It turns out they aren’t. The points earned on the European and Japan circuits are separate, which means that Gronkwoski could not port the 20 points he already had over. Granted, a win in an American derby prep like the Wood Memorial or the Blue Grass would net him 100 points and essentially guarantee Gronkowski a spot in the Kentucky Derby but the easier pathway is through Newcastle.
“We’ve had to change our plans due to the Kentucky Derby points system,” Noseda said via his own website. “It has been decided that Gronkowski will head to the Burradon at Newcastle.”
The 2018 Burradon Stakes is one of only two races worth 30-12-6-3 points on the trail along with the Hyacinth in Japan. If Gronkowski wins, he’ll essentially lock in a spot in the 2018 Kentucky Derby anyways so there’s no point in booking the extra travel. Competing against Gronkowski will be three-year-old filly Nyaleti and colt Pursuer, who will each make their season debuts.
With a price point of $404,492 as a two-year-old, Gronkowski has high expectations. Horse players should not be fooled – he is more than a name. He may not be an outright threat to win the Kentucky Derby just yet, but there’s serious talent. Where Noseda dispatched that talent after the 2018 Burradon will be an interesting follow.