January 19, 2022

Gronkowski out with infection; Instilled Regard gets into Kentucky Derby

Gronkowski clinched the European Road in its final race, the Burradon (Photo courtesy Newcastle Racecourse)

Gronkowski, who secured a spot in the Kentucky Derby (G1) by topping the leaderboard on the first-ever European Road, is now off the trail. The “minor setback” disclosed by trainer Jeremy Noseda Monday morning is a “slight infection,” owner Phoenix Thoroughbreds stated in a press release later Monday, but the timing of his illness and treatment forced connections to give up the Derby dream.

“The three-year-old son of Lonhro spiked a fever over the weekend and was immediately treated with antibiotics,” the press release read. “While the sudden illness seems minor and the colt has been eating heartily and otherwise responding well to treatment, the condition will prevent his shipment to Louisville, Kentucky.”

“Even though we will not be able to make the Kentucky Derby—the ultimate goal in racing for everyone—we are delighted that we were able to gain entrance to this globally significant race with one of our very first acquisitions,” said Phoenix founder Amer Abdulaziz. “We will be back to the Derby in the future, and Gronkowski will return to running and, hopefully, winning more races.”

“We are beyond disappointed that Gronkowski will miss the Kentucky Derby,” said Tom Ludt, who directs Phoenix’s international operations. “To have a Derby contender with our first group of three-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.”

With his main aim off the table, Gronkowski will head to the sidelines to rest and regroup.

Gronkowski’s ill fortune has paved the way for Lecomte (G3) winner Instilled Regard to draw in as the new number 20 on the list, elevating Snapper Sinclair to the on-deck circle at number 21.

Following an eventful day that also witnessed the defection of Quip and promotion of Combatant into the field, Churchill released another updated Kentucky Derby leaderboard Monday evening.