Gronkowski -- the horse -- to miss Kentucky Derby because of infection

Rob Gronkowksi (WJAR)

Gronkowski won't run in the Kentucky Derby because of a slight infection that will keep the England-based colt from traveling to the United States.

Tom Ludt, who oversees Phoenix Thoroughbreds' international operations, says Gronkowski spiked a fever last weekend and was treated with antibiotics. The colt is eating normally and responding to treatment, but Ludt says the owners want to put Gronkowski's welfare first.

Ludt said Monday that the owners are "beyond disappointed" to miss the May 5 race at Churchill Downs.

New England Patriots star Rob Gronkowski recently bought an interest in the animal and said he was excited to meet his namesake during Derby week.

"It’s unfortunate Gronkowski the horse will not be able to race in the upcoming Kentucky Derby due to an illness," the tight end posted on Twitter. "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."

The 3-year-old colt was undefeated in three races this year, including the Burradon Stakes at Newcastle on March 30, which earned him the first European slot in the Derby under Churchill Downs' points system. He is trained by Jeremy Nosada and ridden by Jamie Spencer.

Ludt says Gronkowski will be given time off and return to racing at some point.

The colt was part of the first group of horses purchased by Phoenix Thoroughbreds, an investment fund formed last year by Dubai businessman Amer Abdulaziz.

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