Controversial 2021 Kentucky Derby-winning horse dies

The 3-year-old colt controversially won the 2021 Kentucky Derby and subsequently failed a post-race drug test.

Updated: December 6, 2021 - 3:58pm

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Medina Spirit, the winning horse of the 2021 Kentucky Derby, collapsed and died from a reported heart attack Monday following a workout at Santa Antia Park in California.

Trainer Bob Baffert said, “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," the Associated Press (AP) reports.

The 3-year-old colt had finished five furlongs, a total of five-eighths of one mile, before having an apparent cardiac event. The workout is the horse's second since finishing as the runner-up one month ago in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

The Santa Anita veterinary team "immediately took blood, hair and urine samples from Medina Spirit. Those samples were sent to the California Horse Racing Board." the park stated in a press release.

A full autopsy to determine the exact cause of death will be conducted by the University of California – Davis' School of Veterinary Medicine. 

Medina Spirit was Baffert's seventh Kentucky Derby win. 

After winning the 2021 derby, Medina Spirit failed a drug test, showing positive for the corticosteroid betamethasone, which is a legal drug not allowed during races. Baffert said the drug was recommended by a veterinarian for the colt's dermatitis.

Following the drug test incident, Baffert was suspended by Churchill Downs. He also was from entering horses into the Kentucky Derby in 2022 and 2023, and the New York Racing Association banned him from competing at the Belmont, Saratoga and Aqueduct tracks.

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