Medina Spirit, the racehorse who failed a drug test after wining the Kentucky Derby this year, has collapsed and died during a workout in California on Monday.
The California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) said the three-year-old colt had just completed five furlongs at the Santa Anita Park racetrack near Los Angeles when he collapsed at the finish line, dying instantly.
A spokesman for Santa Anita Park also confirmed the death.
His trainer Bob Baffert told NBC 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 sparked a furore when he tested positive for betamethasone, a legal steroid medication that is not allowed on race day, after winning the coveted Derby prize on 1 May.
Mr Baffert denied claims that he had injected Medina Spirit following a urine test, claiming the drug had entered the horse’s system via a topical ointment used to treat a skin rash.
Even so, he was subjected to extra checks when entering other horses into races, for which he was required to pay out of his own pocket. and banned for two years from the Derby’s home track of Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
An investigation into Medina Spirit’s Derby win was still ongoing at the time of his death, and his body will undergo a full necropsy as per CHRB rules.
A previous CHRB investigation into the deaths of 23 horses at Santa Anita Park found no breaches of animal welfare laws and no evidence of illegal drugs, with all but two of the deaths linked to unnoticed pre-existing injuries from the stress of racing and training.
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies