News and STORIES

Gronk Coming Stateside; Wonder Gadot to Retire

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Wednesday June 05, 2019

Gronk to Run Stateside
With Thunder Snow back on U.S. soil for Saturday’s Metropolitan Handicap (G1), the horse he narrowly defeated in the Dubai World Cup (G1) could follow later this year. Tom Ludt, vice president of the global racing operation Phoenix Thoroughbreds, said Gronkowski is in the meantime freshening up along with stablemate Axelrod in Dubai.

The ultimate goal for Gronkowski, a 4-year-old son of Lonhro, is another run at the World Cup after his loss in a photo finish with Thunder Snow back on March 30.

Gronkowski could build up his fitness, Ludt said, with a race on opening day at Santa Anita Park — the San Diego Handicap (G2) fits the bill — while Gulfstream Park’s Pegasus World Cup (G1) the next month will also be on the radar.

From there, Gronkowski could prep in Dubai. But, Ludt told that “my owner’s an international guy.” Should Saudi Arabia contest its previously announced King Abdulaziz Horse Championship — of which the purse could reach $20 million — that could be the February target.

“Supposedly it’s going to happen,” said Ludt, also the former Breeders’ Cup chairman of the board. “I think they’ll have to decide in the next few weeks.”

Gronkowski last won a race on March 30, 2018, in Newcastle’s Burradon Stakes that qualified him for the Kentucky Derby. A setback prevented him from running the first Saturday in May, but Phoenix transferred him to Chad Brown for a try at the Belmont Stakes, in which he chased Justify for the runner-up spot at 24-1 in his dirt debut.

Between the Belmont and World Cup, however, Gronkowski finished in the money just once in four starts. He prepped for the world’s richest race by running fifth in Round 3 of the Al Maktoum Challenge, then in the care of new trainer Salem bin Ghadayer.

Going Out on Top
Wonder Gadot showed her class on both sides of the Canadian-American border, earning more than $1.5 million in her career.

The 4-year-old filly will now enjoy life on the farm.

Wonder Gadot has retired after 18 races and five victories, including four stakes triumphs, trainer Mark Casse said Tuesday. She’s currently at Bluewater Farm in Lexington, Ky.

“She had proved so much already. There wasn’t a whole lot left that was out there for her,” Casse told Horse Racing Nation. “We just talked about it and decided that would be enough. She actually retired sound.”

The Medaglia d’Oro-sired Wonder Gadot, who collected $1,524,861 in her career, was bred in Ontario and in April was named Canada’s Horse of the Year for 2018.

Campaigned by Gary Barber, she broke her maiden first time out in an August 2017 allowance race at Woodbine. Wonder Gadot won two graded stakes as a 2-year-old, claiming Woodbine’s Grade 3 Mazarine and Aqueduct’s Demoiselle (G2). As a 3-year-old, Wonder Gadot got her shot at the 2018 Kentucky Oaks and dueled with Monomoy Girl down the stretch at Churchill Downs. She came up just short the first Friday of May, finishing second by a half-length.

Wonder Gadot drew clear and won by 4 ¾ lengths over Aheadbyacentury in Woodbine’s Queen’s Plate Stakes, the first leg of that series. Another impressive victory over Aheadbyacentury – this time by 5 ¾ lengths – followed in Fort Erie’s Prince of Wales Stakes.

“She was sound. The crazy thing about her is that in all her racing and everything she did, she never had a day that she was off. … She just was always 100 percent sound, which is amazing, really. She never had a bad day soundness-wise.”