Winner of 2021 Kentucky Derby, Medina Spirit, dies during a training session

Image for illustration purposes only for death of Medina Spirit

Winner of 2021 Kentucky Derby, Medina Spirit, dies during a training session

Image for illustration purposes only not of Medina Spirit

The controversial winner of the 2021 Kentucky Derby, Medina Spirit, has collapsed and died after completing a 5-furlong workout on Monday 6th December 2021 under trainer Bob Baffert. This has been confirmed by California Horse Racing Board’s Equine Medical Director, Dr. Jeff Blea.

Dr. Blea gave a statement saying “I spoke to the attending veterinarian and when they got to him on the track he had already expired. Not sure where on the track it happened, but it was post wire.

“I will have them draw blood and pull hair and will try and get urine for testing. He’ll go out to UC Davis in San Bernardino, for a full and comprehensive necropsy including toxicology, forensics, and tissue sampling. We will take a close look at the heart to try and identify the cause of death.”

“It’s presumed to be a cardiovascular incident, but we don’t know. That will be determined [later].”


Medina Spirit is not thought to have died from complications of any type of leg injury; Trainer Bob Baffert was aiming to run the horse at the Grade 2 San Antonio on December 26th 2021 at Santa Anita, a race designed to be a prep for the $20 million Saudi Cup on Feb. 26 at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Saudi Arabia. Medina Spirit is owned by Zedan Racing Stables of Amr Zedan.

On Monday morning Baffert confirmed the sad news “It is with great sadness that I am reporting Medina Spirit passed away today from a heart attack at Santa Anita following a workout. My entire barn is devastated by this news. Medina Spirit was a great champion, a member of our family who was loved by all, and we are deeply mourning his loss.

“I will always cherish the proud and personal memories of Medina Spirit and his tremendous spirit. Our most sincere condolences go out to Mr. Amr Zedan and the entire Zedan Racing Stables family. They are in our thoughts and prayers as we go through this difficult time.”

The 3-year-old colt had tested positive for the prohibited race-day medication betamethasone after winning the Kentucky Derby in 2021, although the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has yet to issue a ruling following this positive test. , Churchill Downs, known as the home of the Kentucky Derby, had banned Baffert from racing or training there through 2023.  Baffert sued for additional testing to prove that the betamethasone had come from the ointment, Otomax. The horse was not officially disqualified at the time of his death as the investigation was ongoing.

Bloodstock agent, Gary Young, Sedan Racing Manager, and Clocker, who recommended the sale at auction of Medina Spirit for $35 thousand is dispirited “had been training and galloping unbelievably,” but in the stretch of his workout “he wasn’t working nearly as well as he normally did. I couldn’t understand it, because he had been breezing really well.

“Unfortunately, I’ve seen this before when a horse has a heart attack. Their front legs get really rigid, they take a couple of strides, and then they just collapse. That’s basically what happened.”

The three-year-old Medina Spirit, sired by Protonico, won five races and $3,545,200 from 10 starts. In addition to the Kentucky Derby and Awesome Again, Medina Spirit won the Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita, and $100,000 Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar. He also finished third in the Preakness Stakes. John Velazquez was his regular rider.

The results of the necropsy and toxicology studies will be released by the California Horse Racing Board as part of their inquiry into the cause of this unfortunate event.”

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