Rob Gronkowski knows next to nothing about horse racing. But one thing he does know is that a colt named after him is slated to race in the Kentucky Derby, and that's all the information the New England Patriots tight end needed before getting into the thoroughbred business.
Gronkowski, the human, has agreed to acquire a minority stake in Gronkowski, the horse, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The deal with with the global horse racing investment fund Phoenix Thoroughbreds is set to be announced Thursday.
"It will be a new experience," the five-time Pro Bowler said. "Hopefully it will be something I like. I like new hobbies," he said.
The son of Australian racing champion Lonhro, Gronkowski was purchased by Phoenix for $404,492 in England last year. Tom Ludt, vice president of equine operations for Phoenix Thoroughbreds, said the name Gronkowski seemed fitting because the horse is "big and strong" (both he and the football player stand at 6-foot-5) and the family of trainer Rob Noseda are die-hard Patriots fans.
The four-legged Gronkowski has won four of his six starts, including the Burradon Stakes in England on March 30 to earn an automatic spot in the Kentucky Derby. It was at that point that the two-legged Gronkowski started hearing all about his namesake horse.
"Everyone was hitting me up," he said. "[They] thought it was my horse."
Soon a partnership was formed between Phoenix and Gronk.
"[Rob] has a reach that the traditional thoroughbred industry doesn't have anymore," Ludt told the Journal. "We're in the horse industry. Hopefully this just brings that many more eyeballs to horse racing."
The football player said he hopes to meet his new horse in the days leading up to the May 5 Derby.
"I've never dealt with horses," he said. "Hopefully I can get a ride on the horse."