European Road to the Kentucky Derby Continues With Burradon Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

March 28th, 2018

Friday morning isn’t usually the day or time to watch a Kentucky Derby prep race, but the Burradon Stakes on March 30th at Newcastle in England is a notable exception.

Racing fans in North America will want to tune in early (post time is 10:55 a.m. Eastern) to watch the Burradon, which serves as the final prep race on the European Road to the Kentucky Derby.

Held at a mile over the synthetic all-weather track, the expected favorite in the Burradon is #7 Gronkowski, who is unbeaten in three starts over synthetic tracks. Trained by Jeremy Noseda, Gronkowski has already made a name for himself on the Derby trail, picking up 20 qualification points when scoring a victory in the Road to the Kentucky Derby Condition Stakes going a mile at Kempton on March 7th, an effort that received a 101 Racing Post Rating.

Despite winning by less than a length, Gronkowski appeared to be clearly best at Kempton, though he was a bit green during the running. He fought his rider early in the race while racing off the pace and wound up making an early move around the turn, after which he required a considerable amount of time to lengthen his stride and pull away in the homestretch, even drifting toward the rail at one point to briefly interfere with a rival and cause an inquiry.

There’s certainly room for Gronkowski to improve in the Burradon, which could be critical since he’s facing a deeper field this time around. One of his main rivals is the Mark Johnston-trained filly #10 Nyaleti, who won the Princess Margaret Juddmonte Stakes (Eng-III) at Ascot last summer. She’s held her own against talented rivals in Group 2 company as well, though she has yet to win beyond six furlongs and has never competed on a synthetic track. #6 Great Prospector is also accomplished, having finished a close third in the Superlative Stakes (Eng-II) going seven furlongs at Newmarket last year and later finishing a respectable sixth in the prestigious Darley Dewhurst Stakes (Eng-I) against a quality field.

But perhaps the most interesting newcomer is #9 Purser, a Group 3-placed runner who won his lone start over a synthetic track (going seven furlongs at Lingfield) by nine lengths last fall. Owned and bred by Juddmonte Farms and trained by John Gosden, Purser is fast enough on Racing Post Ratings to be competitive here and was ridden last year by the top jockeys Ryan Moore and Frankie Dettori, hinting that Purser might be held in high regard by his connections.

I respect the chances of Gronkowski, but suspect that he will be heavily bet in the U.S. pool, making Purser a suitable value-oriented alternative.

$10 to win on #9 Purser $5 exacta: 7,9 with 7,9 ($10) $1 trifecta: 7,9 with 6,7,9,10 with 6,7,9,10 ($12)

Good luck!