According to Craig Robertson, the attorney for Medina Spirit’s trainer Bob Baffert, Medina Spirit suffered a heart attack after a workout.
“Following the completion of a routine morning workout, Medina Spirit collapsed on the track at Santa Anita Park and died suddenly of a probable cardiac event according to the on-site veterinary team who attended to him,” track officials said in a statement.
Blood, hair, and urine samples from the racehorse were taken immediately after Medina Spirit’s death and sent to the California Horse Racing Board. A full necropsy will be performed by the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine to determine an exact cause of death, according to track officials.
The 3-year-old colt was the first-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby in May, but the win is now under investigation after Medina Spirit tested positive for the anti-inflammatory steroid betamethasone. The race is win is now under review by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
Medina Spirit went on to a second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and third in the Preakness Stakes, but was banned from participating from the Belmont Stakes.
Baffert and his attorney say Medina Spirit tested positive due to the use of a topical ointment known as Otomax to treat a skin condition, not an injection intended to enhance the horse’s performance.
In a statement to Thoroughbred Daily News, Baffert said his entire barn has been devastated by the news of Medina Spirit’s death.
“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 our proud and personal memories of Medina Spirit and his tremendous spirit,” the statement said.