Controversial Kentucky Derby Winner Medina Spirit Dies During Training

Medina Spirit died on Monday at Santa Anita Park.

Bob Baffert-trained Medina Spirit, the Kentucky Derby winner that tested positive for betamethasone after winning the 2021 Triple Crown event, died on Monday at Santa Anita Park while preparing for the Kentucky Derby.

According to Amr Zedan, the horse’s owner, Medina Spirit died of a heart attack, as reported by Thoroughbred Daily News. An autopsy is required to determine the exact cause of death, according to California Horse Racing Board Equine Medical Director Dr. Jeff Blea in an interview with industry newspaper Paulick Report.

“I called to the attending veterinarian and when they arrived to him on the track, he had already died,” Blea said. “I’ll have them take blood and hair samples, and I’ll attempt to collect pee for testing.”

Toxicology, forensics, and tissue samples will all be done at UC Davis in San Bernardino, California.

Medina Spirit’s victory at the Kentucky Derby sparked controversy.
Betamethasone, an anti-inflammatory steroid, tested positive for Medina Spirit’s Derby victory after the May 1 race. A day before the Derby, Baffert admitted to putting Medina Spirit’s daily ointment, which contained betamethasone, containing the medication.

In the 14 days preceding the Derby, the use of betamethasone is strictly prohibited. The ointment was meant to treat a skin issue, according to Baffert. Medina Spirit may have been disqualified after a second test confirmed a positive result in June.

The case has yet to be heard by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. His lawyer issued a statement on Friday, saying that the steroids had been given topically rather than through injection.

Following Medina Spirit’s second positive test, Derby host Churchill Downs punished trainers linked with Bob Baffert Racing Stables for two years. With seven Kentucky Derby victories under his belt, Baffert is the most successful trainer in the sport. Prior to Medina Spirit, 29 of his horses tested positive for drugs, therefore he has a long history of medical infractions.

Preakness third-place finisher Medina Spirit was still running after the positive test. On Monday, Zedan stood behind Baffert following the death of Medina Spirit.

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