Medina Spirit, whose victory in the Kentucky Derby has been questioned by a drug test after a failed race, died on Monday after a punctual workout.
Jeff Blea, equine medical director for the California Jockey Board, said the foal suffered an apparent heart attack after working five hairpins at the Santa Anita Park racecourse in Southern California.
“Near the end of the breeze this morning, he felt unwell and his rider tried to pull him up,” Blea said. “He went down. Our vet was on hand immediately and he was out of date. “
Neither coach Bob Baffert nor Baffert’s attorney, W. Craig Robertson III, responded to requests for comment. Medina Spirit’s owner, Amr Zedan of Saudi Arabia, was not immediately available for comment.
Zedan’s attorney, Clark Brewster, said he spoke with both his client and Baffert on Monday morning. Both said Medina Spirit is training well after finishing in an impressive second place in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November and is gearing up for another race in the coming weeks, Brewster said.
“They are very sad. It’s really tragic,” said Brewster. “He had a great workout and moved with ease and then Bob said when he was finished, he just fell.”
With 12 to 1 odds, Medina Spirit was a surprising winner of the Derby, America’s most famous race. The foal sold for just $1,000 and was a bargain for Zedan, who paid only $35,000 for him. Medina Spirit’s victory was the seventh victory for Baffert-trained horses at the Battle of Derby, a record.
However, a week after winning the Derby, Baffert announced that a post-race examination had found betamethasone, a corticosteroid injected into joints to reduce pain and swelling, in Medina Spirit. At the time, Baffert strongly denied that he or anyone else on his team had administered drugs to Medina Spirit.
He gave a series of television and radio interviews in the days that followed, offering various theories as to how the foal had tested positive. He criticized Churchill Downs’ suspension of him as “harsh” and cited “cultural cancellation” for the controversy.
However, Baffert soon reversed himself. He said that Medina Spirit had a rash on the hind end and that the ointment used daily to treat dermatitis contained the substance.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/06/sports/horse-racing/medina-spirit-dies.html Medina Spirit, a Kentucky Derby winner, dies in training