Medina Spirit, the first-place finisher in the 2021 Kentucky Derby (G1), collapsed and died on the track at Santa Anita Monday morning. The son of Protonico had just completed a five-furlong workout in 1:01.40 for trainer Bob Baffert.
“I spoke to the attending veterinarian, and when they got to him on the track he had already expired,” California Horse Racing Board Equine Medical Director Jeff Blea told The Paulick Report. “Not sure where on the track it happened, but it was post wire.
“I will have them draw blood and pull hair and will try and get urine for testing. He’ll go out to UC Davis in San Bernardino for a full and comprehensive necropsy including toxicology, forensics and tissue sampling. We will take a close look at the heart to try and identify the cause of death.”
The colt’s owner, Amr Zedan, also confirmed news of the death to Thoroughbred Daily News.
Medina Spirit finished first by a half-length in the May 1 Kentucky Derby, but the victory has been under scrutiny since a post-race test showed the colt had betamethasone in his system. That therapeutic medication is not allowed on race day. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has not held a hearing on the positive test and the matter has not been adjudicated.
Victorious in his only start at two last December at Los Alamitos, Medina Spirit finished second in the Sham (G3), first in the Robert B. Lewis (G3), and second in the San Felipe (G2) and Santa Anita Derby (G1) prior to the Kentucky Derby.
Following the Derby, Medina Spirit finished a distant third to Rombauer in the Preakness (G1). After a summer break, Medina Spirit returned to win the Shared Belief S. at Del Mar and the Awesome Again (G1) at Santa Anita against older rivals. In his final start, Medina Spirit finished second to Knicks Go in last month’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Del Mar. He compiled a record of 10-5-4-1, $3,545,200.
Bred in Florida by Gail Rice, Medina Spirit originally sold for $1,000 as a short yearling at the OBS January sale, and later brought $35,000 as an OBS summer juvenile in training. He was produced by Mongolian Changa, a daughter of Brilliant Speed.