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Medina Spirit, controversial Kentucky Derby winner, dies suddenly

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Medina Spirit, controversial Kentucky Derby winner, dies suddenly
Reigning Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, who died Monday, won the Awesome Again Stakes on Oct. 2 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. Photo by Santa Anita

Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Three-year-old Medina Spirit, the controversial winner of the 2021 Kentucky Derby, collapsed and died from an apparent heart attack Monday morning at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., trainer Bob Baffert said.

"My entire barn is devastated by this news," Baffert said in a statement to UPI. "Medina Spirit was a great champion, a member of our family who was loved by all, and we are deeply mourning his loss.

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"I will always cherish the proud and personal memories of Medina Spirit and his tremendous spirit. Our most sincere condolences go out to [horse owner] Mr. Amr Zedan and the entire Zedan Racing Stables family. They are in our thoughts and prayers as we go through this difficult time."

Zedan told the Thoroughbred Daily News that the Colt died after 5-furlong workout at the track. California Horse Racing Board equine medical director Jeff Blea also told BloodHorse.com that the "sudden death" came from what appeared to be a "classic case of heart attack."

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Medina Spirit won the 147th edition of the Derby on May 1 in Louisville, Ky., for Baffert's record-breaking seventh title at the event.

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The victory was in jeopardy because Medina Spirit tested positive for the banned drug betamethasone after the race. Baffert claims the positive test result emerged due to the presence of an ingredient in an ointment used to treat the horse for a skin rash.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has yet to hold a hearing for the case. Churchill Downs suspended Baffert and barred him from entering horses in the Kentucky Derby for the next two years.

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Baffert also was barred from entering horses at the New York Racing Association's Belmont, Saratoga and Aqueduct race tracks.

Medina Spirit also finished second at the 2021 Breeders' Cup Classic and third in the Preakness Stakes. The colt totaled five wins in 10 career starts and earned more than $3.5 million in prize money.

Highlights of the 2021 Kentucky Derby

Jockey John Velazquez (L) and trainer Bob Baffert celebrate after their horse, Medina Spirit, won the Kentucky Derby on Saturday at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Photo by John Sommers II/UPI | License Photo

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