(Reuters) – Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, who failed a drug test after this year’s race, died of a heart attack on Monday following a workout at a California racetrack, a lawyer for the horse’s trainer said.
Medina Spirit, who stormed home under jockey John Velazquez to finish first by a half-length at the Kentucky Derby in May and give trainer Bob Baffert a record seventh win in the $3 million Run for the Roses, collapsed after a workout at Santa Anita Park.
“It is with great sadness that I am reporting Medina Spirit passed away today from a heart attack at Santa Anita following a workout,” Baffert said in a statement provided to Reuters.
“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.
“I will always cherish the proud and personal memories of Medina Spirit and his tremendous spirit.”
Medina Spirit owner Amr Zedan of Saudi Arabia was not immediately reachable through his lawyer.
“All I can say is that he gave us the ride of our lives and brought everyone together,” Zedan said in a report on Thoroughbred Daily News.
“We are mourning this loss, Bob (Baffert), myself, our team and Johnny (Velazquez), as well. We are all very sad.”
Baffert, one of the best known trainers in the world, came under scrutiny from state horse racing regulators in recent years after some of the horses in his stables tested positive for banned substances.
Medina Spirit’s post-race sample after the Kentucky Derby showed 21 picograms of betamethasone, over the legal limit in Kentucky racing, and Baffert was suspended from racing at Churchill Downs for two years.
Despite the positive test, Medina Spirit was cleared to run in the Preakness Stakes in mid-May and finished third, but the dark bay colt was banned from the Belmont Stakes, the final leg of U.S. thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown.
Baffert said earlier this year that Otomax, an anti-fungal ointment used to treat dermatitis, could be the source of the positive test.
An attorney for the horse’s owner said over the weekend a split sample test for Medina Spirit confirmed the presence of a prohibited substance was indeed from a topical ointment nL4N2SP02Y and not an injection.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue and Tyler Clifford; Editing by Ken Ferris)