Gronkowski, named after New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, is out of the Kentucky Derby after suffering an infection. Trainer Jeremy Noseda made the decision on Monday to not send the 3-year-old colt to Churchill Downs from where he was training in England.

Gronkowski, named after New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, has an infection, and was pulled from the Kentucky Derby by trainer Jeremy Noseda. (Image: Getty)

“We’ve had a minor setback and we will know where we are in the next 24 hours,” Noseda said, but made the decision not to run the horse in the Derby, which is May 5.

The horse had some long odds at 50/1, next to last in the 20-horse field. Only Firenze Fire at 60/1 had worse odds. The favorite is the Bob Baffert-trained Justify at 9/5.

Real Gronk Disappointed

Gronkowski (the human) was excited about the horse with his name. He had recently bought a stake in the animal and was looking forward to meeting him at the Derby.

“When I heard about the racehorse being named after me, I started watching and got really stoked when he started winning,” Gronkowski said. “I really can’t think of anything cooler than having a top-class thoroughbred named after me.”

The horse was bred in Kentucky and bought by Phoenix, an investment group. Noseda named him after the 6-foot-6 tight end because the horse was big and strong. He and his family are also fans of the Patriots.

He had qualified for the Derby after winning the Kentucky prep race, the Burradon Stakes at Newcastle in the United Kingdom on March 30. He defeated nine other horses and won by more than a length.

The infection he suffered was not life-threatening, and the horse should be healthy again in a couple of weeks. Noseda didn’t want to risk injuring the animal any further, and made the decision to pull him out of the race.

“It’s unfortunate Gronkowski the horse will not be able to race in the upcoming Kentucky Derby due to an illness,” Gronkowski said. “I fully support what is best for the horse. I know he will come back strong and healthy and I am excited to see him race again very soon.”

This is the third horse that will miss the Derby because of injury. The first was McKinzie, who suffered a hind injury and was kept out of the Triple Crown races by Baffert. The second was Runaway Ghost, trained by Todd Pletcher. He suffered a shin injury.

Fan Favorite Was Longshot

The 50/1 odds on Gronkowski were well founded. Though the horse had won four of his six races, the conditions and lengths of those victories were vastly different than the Run for the Roses.

His premiere win at the Burradon Stakes was on a synthetic surface. It was also a straight track with no turns and only a mile in length. The Derby is 1.25 miles on dirt and includes two turns.

In fact none of Gronkowski’s victories were on dirt. They either came on turf or synthetic surfaces. Also the competition the horse faced was questionable, and he appears not to be bred to run Triple Crown races. His sire was a champion mile runner, but nothing longer than that distance.

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