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Medina Spirit, disputed Kentucky Derby winner, dies of a heart attack

Medina Spirit, disputed Kentucky Derby winner in doping scandal, dies of a heart attack following workout: Bob Baffert-trained colt, 3, tested positive for banned substance in May

  • Medina Spirit, the disputed Kentucky Derby winner at the center of horse racing’s doping scandal, died from an apparent heart attack following training
  • The Bob Baffert-trained colt, 3, ram a five-furlong practice session at California’s Santa Anita Park before dying of an unexplained heart attack on Monday 
  • Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone, a banned substance, in May and was banned from the Belmont Stakes, the final leg of the triple crown
  • Attorney Clark Brewster said a sample test was completed by the New York Racing Laboratory that supported the defense that Medina Spirit was’t injected
  • A split sample test for the three-year-old confirmed that the presence of betamethasone was from a topical ointment, Brewster said 
  • Baffert, a seven-times Kentucky Derby winner, was banned by Churchill Downs for two years. He has been plagued by recent doping accusations


Medina Spirit, the disputed Kentucky Derby winner at the center of horse racing’s doping scandal, has died from an apparent heart attack following a training session in California, according to multiple reports.

The Bob Baffert-trained colt had just completed a five-furlong workout at Santa Anita Park, according to Thoroughbred Daily News, which reported the news. California Horse Racing Board equine medical director Jeff Blea and Dionne Benson also confirmed the report to Bloodhorse.com. The CHRB did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for confirmation. 

‘I just heard. He had a heart attack,’ owner Amr Zedan told TDN. ‘It was quick and he didn’t suffer. It’s unfortunate. In a moment like this there is not much that we can do. All I can say is that he gave us the ride of our lives and brought everyone together. We are mourning this loss, Bob [Baffert], myself, our team and Johnny [Velazquez], as well. We are all very sad.’

The cause of the heart attack was not immediately known. 

‘We don’t know the cause and sometimes even after the necropsy, we don’t know,’ Benson told BloodHorse. 

Medina Spirit, the disputed Kentucky Derby winner at the center of horse racing’s doping scandal, has died from an apparent heart attack following a training session in California

Trainer Bob Baffert (L) Jockey John Velazquez (C) and Horse Owner Amr Zedan hold up the winners trophy after the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 1,

Trainer Bob Baffert (L) Jockey John Velazquez (C) and Horse Owner Amr Zedan hold up the winners trophy after the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 1,

Bob Baffert led Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit back to the barn on the morning after the race. Medina Spirit is Baffert's seventh Kentucky Derby winner on May 2

Bob Baffert led Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit back to the barn on the morning after the race. Medina Spirit is Baffert’s seventh Kentucky Derby winner on May 2

Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone, a banned substance, in May and was banned from running in the Belmont Stakes, the third and final leg of the triple crown.

Clark Brewster, an attorney for Zedan Racing, said the testing of the sample was completed by the New York Racing Laboratory and ‘scientifically confirmed’ Medina Spirit was not injected with betamethasone. A split sample test for the three-year-old confirmed that the presence of betamethasone was from a topical ointment, Brewster said.

‘The Kentucky Racing Commission has steadfastly enacted rules relating to corticosteroid joint injection and have drawn a bright line rule that no injections are permitted within 14 days of a race,’ read the statement.

‘Now there is zero doubt that the 14-day rule some thought might have been violated by the earlier, less specific testing is revealed as premature judgment. That groundless accusation is without scientific merit.’

Baffert, a seven-times Kentucky Derby winner, was banned by Churchill Downs for two years following the failed drug test.

Baffert claimed to be the victim of ‘cancel culture’ following Medina Spirit’s failed drug test. 

A general view of atmosphere at Santa Anita Gold Cup Race Day at Santa Anita Race Track on May 26, 2018 in Arcadia, California. Medina Spirit suffered a heart attack at the track Monday

A general view of atmosphere at Santa Anita Gold Cup Race Day at Santa Anita Race Track on May 26, 2018 in Arcadia, California. Medina Spirit suffered a heart attack at the track Monday

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