Medina Spirit, the Kentucky Derby-winning horse that failed a drug test afterward and cast a cloud over the victory, died Monday during a workout at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia.
The 3-year-old colt’s owner, Amr Zedan, confirmed the horse’s death to Thoroughbred Daily News. Jeff Blea, equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board, told the publication he saw a video of the horse’s workout, and Medina Spirit appeared to labor toward the end.
“He looked like he was struggling the last part, and the rider was pulling him up,” Blea told Thoroughbred Daily News.
Blea said the horse collapsed just after reaching the wire at the end of his workout, and by the time the track veterinarian reached Medina Spirit, the colt was already dead.
“Sudden death is the cause of the death,” Blea told the publication, speculating that “oftentimes, these are cardiovascular.”
The horse, trained by Bob Baffert, won the Kentucky Derby in May but later tested positive for a steroid, leading to challenges to the validity of the victory. Officials at Churchill Downs announced that Medina Spirit would be disqualified if the test was confirmed.
Baffert and his attorney have insisted that the positive test was the result of a topical ointment known as Otomax being used to treat a skin condition, not an injection aimed at enhancing the horse’s performance in the race.
Median Spirit came in second in the Breeders Cup at Del Mar in November.