The equine Gronkowski concluded his successful "playoff" run toward the Kentucky Derby (G1) on Friday, capturing the Burradon Stakes at Newcastle, England, and securing an invitation to the Run for the Roses as the leading point earner in the European Road to the Kentucky Derby series.
In second place behind Mendelssohn on the leaderboard entering the Burradon, Gronkowski needed to finish second or better to be assured the invite, and he did so with a 1 1/4-length score under Jamie Spencer.
Gronkowski earned 30 points for the win, bringing his total to 50 following a 20-point score in the Road to the Kentucky Derby Conditions Stakes earlier this month. Mendelssohn, meanwhile, will attempt to qualify for the Kentucky Derby on Saturday in the U.A.E. Derby (G2) at Meydan, a part of the regular Road to the Kentucky Derby series schedule.
Settled at the back of the 10-horse field early, Gronkowski began to advance along the stands' side rail inside the final two furlongs of the straight mile contest. He continued to grind his way to the finish after seizing control and won in a time of 1:37.49.
Owned by Phoenix Thoroughbred Limited and trained by Jeremy Noseda, Gronkowski paid $3.80 in the U.S. pool. Iconic Sunset, a 42-1 chance, beat Dark Acclaim and Purser in a three-way battle for the place.
A son of Lonhro, Gronkowski has now won four of six outings, all of them on all-weather surfaces in England. He placed in one of two grass appearances at the start of his career. In addition to not having raced on dirt, Gronkowski has also never raced beyond a mile.
Gronkowski is out of the Lookin at Lucky mare Four Sugars, a half-sister to Stephen Foster H. (G1) winner Flashy Bull.