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7 Dec, 2021 02:05

Kentucky Derby winner collapses and dies after workout

Kentucky Derby winner collapses and dies after workout

Medina Spirit, the horse that was disqualified for having failed drug tests after winning this year’s Kentucky Derby, has died after a routine training run in Southern California.

The colt collapsed on Monday after running five furlongs (1,006 meters) at Santa Anita Park, east of Los Angeles, according to a statement by trainer Bob Baffert. Medina Spirit had already died by the time a veterinarian reached him on the track. Santa Anita said the likely cause of death was a heart attack.

Blood, hair, and urine samples were immediately taken and sent to the California Horse Racing Board. Results of a full necropsy and toxicology studies will be released by the board, a Santa Anita Park spokesperson said.

“All I can say is that he gave us the ride of our lives and brought everyone together,” said Amr Zedan, the colt’s owner. “We are mourning this loss, Bob, myself, our team and [jockey] Johnny [Velasquez] as well. We are all very sad.”

Medina Spirit won the Kentucky Derby, America’s most prestigious horse race, last May, despite being a 15-1 longshot. But he tested positive for betamethasone, an anti-inflammatory steroid, and was later stripped of his title and $1.8 million prize. Baffert was suspended for two years at Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby venue.

The disqualification remained in dispute just days before Medina Spirit’s death. Lawyers for Baffert and Zedan said last week that a recent lab test showed that the betamethasone in Medina Spirit’s system came from a topical injection, not from the acetate form. Such an ointment, which can be used to treat a skin lesion, isn’t prohibited at the Kentucky Derby.

“Zedan is proud to have stood by Bob and is ecstatic that Medina Spirit will receive the honor of his great victory,” lawyer Clark Brewster said on Friday. As it turns out, if Medina Spirit’s name is ever cleared by racing officials, it will now have to be done posthumously.