Gronkowski 'going just right' into prep for big-money races

December 04, 2019 09:30am
Gronkowski, due for his first start Thursday since a runner-up finish in the Dubai World Cup (G1), will come off the bench in what is by all accounts only a prep race toward bigger things.

But trainer Salem bin Ghadayer also voiced some optimism about the 4-year-old Lonhro colt's chances in Meydan's The Entisar, which goes as Race 5 on the card at 11:50 a.m. ET.

“He’s doing well and his training is going just right,” Bin Ghadayer told the Dubai Racing Club. “He’s going the right way and, at the end of the day, this is going to be a prep race for him. I’m happy with him. I would say he is about 80-85% ready, and he’s fit for this kind of race. I am not scared about the distance off the (layoff). This is a first race for him. He’ll be in form."

The Entisar runs at 2,000 meters, or just short of 10 furlongs, which is well in Gronkowski's wheelhouse at his best. In addition to the Dubai World Cup second to Thunder Snow, he was the Belmont Stakes runner-up in 2018 to Justify in his first U.S. start.

Before campaigning in America and Dubai, Gronkowski began his career on synthetics in Europe, where he won four straight races, two of them stakes.

“He’s a sound horse, and the only thing I can say is that he can be a bit naughty at the starting gate,” Bin Ghadayer said. “Hopefully he does well with that."

Beyond the Entisar, each of the Jan. 25 Pegasus World Cup, Feb. 29 Saudi Cup and March 28 Dubai World Cup have been mentioned as options for Phoenix Thoroughbreds' Gronkowski, who is now co-owned by Saudi Arabia's 
Khalid bin Mishref and will run Thursday in his colors.

The $9 million Pegasus and $20 million Saudi Cup run at 1 1/8 miles, with the $12 million Dubai World Cup a 1 1/4-miler.

“He is training well and everything is going to plan with him thus far," Bin Ghadayer said. "We said all along we would give him a run before traveling with him, and this is that prep race we identified. He is fit and ready for a run, but perhaps only 85% fit. The trip suits him and we know he stays further, so this looks a good starting point.”

Gronkowski, with a 120, is the top-rated horse in his flight. He'll have 
Royston Ffrench against six rivals, among them New Trails, another 2019 Dubai World Cup participant who finished 10th but exited the race with cuts on his legs.

“Hopefully the World Cup is the aim again and we think he is an improving horse,” said trainer Ahmad bin Harmash. “Last season we kept him quite busy to get him rated highly enough for the big races, but this time we already have that rating, so we can be more selective with his races.”

The Entisar field:

1. Militar Law
2. Mystique Moon
3. New Trails
4. Gronkowski
5. Manguzi
6. Saltarin Dubai
7. Talento Puma


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