Blog Briefing Room

Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit dies of heart attack

Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit died on Monday in California, the horse's team said.

"It is with great sadness that I am reporting Medina Spirit passed away today from a heart attack at Santa Anita following a workout," trainer Bob Baffert wrote in a statement.

"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," Baffert added.

Medina Spirit's Kentucky Derby victory this year came under scrutiny after he tested positive for the anti-inflammatory steroid betamethasone in a post-race drug test. Baffert, a Hall of Fame trainer, said days later that Medina Spirit had been given the ointment Otomax, which contains the substance, as a treatment for dermatitis.

It is illegal for horses to test positive for betamethasone on the day of a race.

Baffert was ultimately suspended for two years by Churchill Downs, the organizers of the Kentucky Derby, after Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone in a second test.

The suspension means that neither Baffert nor any trainer directly or indirectly employed by him will be permitted to enter horses in races or apply for stall occupancy at tracks owned by Churchill Downs.

The suspension, however, did not disqualify Medina Spirit as the winner of the Kentucky Derby. At the time of his death, Medina Spirit had not been disqualified from the race, which took place in May as the first leg of the Triple Crown.

"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," Baffert said.