Medina Spirit, the 2021 Kentucky Derby Winner, has died of a sudden heart attack. The horse was on the track at Santa Anita this morning when the incident occurred.
While going through a routine workout the horse collapsed, according to Thoroughbred Daily News. After reviewing the video of the workout, Jeff Blea, equine medical director, noticed the animal was laboring at the end of the workout.
“He looked like he was struggling the last part, and the rider was pulling him up,” Blea mentioned.
While talking about the incident, Blea explained that the veterinarian was sent to the track immediately. However, by the time they arrived, Medina Spirit had already died. These incidents are sudden and can happen randomly.
“Sudden death is the cause of death, oftentimes, these are cardiovascular,” he said.
The California Horse Racing Board has a way to deal with these events. When a horse dies in this manner it will undergo a full necropsy. A panel of experts will also review the incident surrounding the death. Blea says that there is no reason to believe there were warning signs or foul play involved in the death.
“Absolutely not. We’ll address this like we do all our fatalities, try to find out the reason for it and how to prevent it in the future. But at this point, there is nothing that’s untoward that I’m concerned about.”
Medina Spirit Kentucky Derby Controversy
Medina Spirit is, of course, known for winning the Kentucky Derby. However, the horse failed a drug test following its biggest win. The day after the Derby, it was announced that the horse had failed a test and was positive for betamethasone.
At the time, Bob Baffert declared that it was the result of tainted urine in the horse’s hay. However, the story ended up going towards a cream that was used on the horse. The famed trainer said an anti-fungal cream was responsible for the positive test.
At the time, Baffert said, “I got the biggest gut punch in racing, for something I didn’t do. This shouldn’t have happened. There’s a problem somewhere. It didn’t come from us… He ran a gallant race.”
The horse trainer is known all over the world. Of course, in more recent years he has been knocking it out of the park. He had 2015 triple crown winner American Pharoah. Then he had Justify win the crown in 2018.
However, Baffert has had a bit of a darker history as of recently as well. He had two horses test positive for a painkiller at the 2020 Arkansas Derby. He also had a filly scratched from the Kentucky Oaks in recent years.
So, when it came to Medina Spirit, folks just weren’t sure if they could believe Baffert. However, the horse was cleared to race at the Preakness following the KY Derby.