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Horse named after Rob Gronkowski wins stakes race

Gronkowski is a step closer to competing in the Kentucky Derby.

Not Rob Gronkowski, the New England Patriots tight end, but the horse named after him.

The horse won the Kentucky Derby conditions stakes on Wednesday night at Kempton Park in southwest London, giving Gronkowski 20 qualification points for the first race of the Triple Crown at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, in May.

Kerri Radcliffe of Phoenix Thoroughbreds, which owns the horse, said the height -- the same as Gronkowski (6-foot-5) -- and size of the horse made Gronkowski an appropriate name.

"I love the New England Patriots, and as Rob Gronkowski is 6-5 and about the same wide, I thought it would be an appropriate name for the horse, as he's built much the same," Radcliffe told the Racing Post last month.

Gronkowski the player actually played the role of a horse this season. After Patriots wide receiver Brandin Cooks caught a touchdown pass in the team's 35-17 win over the Miami Dolphins, he jumped on Gronk's back and rode him like a horse. Gronkowski said after the game that their coaching staff yelled at the two for the celebration.

No NFL team is better represented at Triple Crown races than the Patriots.

Last year, the team's contingent at the Kentucky Derby included quarterbacks Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo (who was traded this past season to the San Francisco 49ers) and wide receiver Julian Edelman.

In 2014, then-Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker famously handed out $100 bills after winning more than $50,000. Churchill Downs later said an error resulted in significantly overpaying him.

Gronkowski himself last showed up at the Kentucky Derby wearing a plaid suit in 2015.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick became a horse racing fan as an assistant for the New York Giants, coaching under thoroughbred owner Bill Parcells.

When the Patriots started the 2001 season with a 1-3 record, Belichick, according to industry trade magazine Bloodhorse, showed the team Tiznow's incredible down-the-stretch victory at that year's Breeders' Cup Classic to motivate them. The Patriots went on to win their first Super Bowl that season, as Brady replaced an injured Drew Bledsoe.

Gronkowski now has a career racing record of 3-0.

Only two British horses have won the Run for the Roses, the last being Tomy Lee in 1959.