Kentucky Derby Winner Medina Spirit Dies Suddenly on Track

This year's Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit collapsed and died on Monday morning of an apparent heart attack after a workout in Southern California, according to the Thoroughbred Daily News, through the horse's owner Amr Zedan. A video of the workout was sent to Jeff Blea who is the California Horse Racing Board equine medical director. 

"He looked like he was struggling the last part, and the rider was pulling him up," Blea said while also adding that Medina Spirit collapsed and went down after the wire. He then added that  "Sudden death is the cause of death," while also noting that "oftentimes, these are cardiovascular."

Medina Spirit won the Kentucky Derby in May, but it came with some controversy. Shortly after the race, Media Spirit tested positive for the steroid betamethasone. He failed a second drug test in June and was banned from competing in the Belmont Stakes due to drug violations. 

"CDI has consistently advocated for strict medication regulations so that we can confidently ensure that horses are fit to race and the races are conducted fairly," Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen said in a statement at the time. "Reckless practices and substance violations that jeopardize the safety of our equine and human athletes or compromise the integrity of our sport are not acceptable and as a company, we must take measures to demonstrate that they will not be tolerated.  

In May, Medina Spirit owner Bob Baffert explained the situation. "That horse has never been treated with it (betamethasone)," he claimed. "Actually, it's a legal therapeutic medicine and the amount that was in it wouldn't have any effect on the horse anyway. But we don't … That horse was never treated with that and so that's the disturbing part of it. I never thought I'd have to be fighting for my reputation and the poor horse's reputation. Because of the new regulations the regulators have put, they're testing these horses at contaminated levels and it's been a horrible experience." 

After the Kentucky Derby, Medina Spirit went on to finish third place in the Preakness Stakes. However, he didn't race in the Belmont Stakes after Baffert was suspended for doping allegations. Medina's Spirit's last race was the Breeders' Cup Classic, and the horse finish second.