Should the weather cooperate this time around, Phoenix Thoroughbred's Kentucky-bred Gronkowski will be favored to pick up some qualifying points to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) when he starts in the March 7 Road to the Kentucky Derby conditions stakes at Kempton.
The race is one of two European Road to the Kentucky Derby points races postponed last week because of winter weather. The race at Kempton is rescheduled from March 1, while the Patton Stakes at Dundalk in Ireland was rescheduled from March 2 to March 9.
The European Road to the Kentucky Derby will award a single spot in the starting gate. Both of this week's races award points to the top four finishers: 20-8-4-2. A final points race, the Burradon conditions stakes March 30 at Kempton, will award points on a 30-12-6-3 scale to the top four placers .
Trained by Jeremy Noseda, Gronkowski lost his first two starts on turf but is undefeated in a pair of starts on all-weather surfaces. The son of Lonhro closed out 2017 with a 4 1/2-length win in a mile novice race at Chelmsford City, then opened this season Feb. 9 with a six-length score in a one-mile allowance race at Newcastle.
Before the Road to the Kentucky Derby conditions stakes was postponed, Noseda said he liked how Gronkowski was training.
"This has been the specific plan since he won at Chelmsford. Newcastle was a prep race, and he took a small step there," Noseda said, noting the Kempton race will be a bigger step. "I have a lot of faith in the horse and he is more than equipped to compete. He is in great shape, tip-top order. I couldn't be happier with him and the track will suit, too."
Jamie Spencer is scheduled to ride the Triple Crown-nominated Gronkowski.
Seven horses have been entered in Wednesday's Kempton test, including Three Weeks, a Kentucky-bred son of Tapit who also enters off a pair of wins and is Triple Crown-nominated. The Apple Tree Stud homebred closed out 2017 with a novice race victory in December at Lingfield Park and opened his 3-year-old season with a two-length score at Newcastle. Three Weeks is trained by William Haggas, and Ryan Moore has been named to ride.