After going down in a photo finish in the Dubai World Cup, Gronkowski could start his campaign back towards the 2020 edition of the World’s richest racein November and back on US soil.
The Phoenix Thoroughbreds owned four-year-old was only just denied by Thunder Snow in the showpiece race at Meydan in March after being nursed back to top form by Salem bin Ghadayer. While his rival is back in action at Belmont this weekend the colt affectionally referred to as “the Big Horse” is resting up in Dubai alongside stablemate Axelrod with a November return pencilled in for both.
Speaking to the website, horseracingnation.com Phoenix Thoroughbreds vice-president Tom Ludt explained: “The hope is to get these guys ready for something easy in November or bring them over here (to the US).”
Ludt went onto to say the San Diego Handicap (G2) on the opening weekend at Santa Anita could be on the agenda while the Pegasus World Cup also remains a possible target. The previously announced King Abdulaziz Horse Championship in Saudi Arabia is high on the wish list for the team behind the innovative investment fund with the purse set to reach $20million.
“Supposedly it’s going to happen,” said Ludt of that race. “I think they’ll have to decide in the next few weeks.”
After running Triple Crown winner Justify close in the Belmont Stakes the son of Lonhro finished in the money once in four starts and warmed-up for his fantastic performance in the Dubai World Cup by finishing fifth in the Al Maktoum Challenge on his first start for bin Ghadayer.
“The guy was extremely confident,” Ludt said reflecting on the build-up to the World’s richest race. “He felt like he got the horse right in that prep race. He didn’t run that well, but he said he got what he needed.”
Axelrod, owned in partnership with Slam Dunk Racing, ran ninth behind his stablemate in the Dubai feature having previously secured a brace of GradeTthree victories and placed in a Grade One.
“They both have had pretty good campaigns,” continued Ludt. “Gronkowski, if you think about it, he ran really well in the World Cup and really well in the Belmont. But in between that, he threw him some real clunkers.”
“We just feel like if both of those horses got freshened up, it might do them good.”