Medina Spirit Dies after Workout at Santa Anita

Medina Spirit collapsed and died after a workout today at Santa Anita, presumably from a cardiac event. The three-year old colt finished first in this year’s Kentucky Derby, but failed a post-Derby drug test, testing positive for betamethasone, an anti-inflammatory steroid used to treat joint pain in horses.

“Near the end of his breeze this morning, he did not feel right and his rider tried to pull him up,” Blea said. “He went down. Our vet on the scene got there immediately and he was already expired.”

“Horses’ vascular systems are complicated,” Blea said. “Sudden death necropsies are more in depth but sometimes fail to tell you what happened conclusively.”

Dr. Jeff Blea, the equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board

There is a lot to unpack about Medina Spirit’s death: concerns over trainer Bob Baffert’s drug violations, the unusual number of horse deaths at Santa Anita, and what his death means for the future of racing.

But today, I think should be spent grieving for a handsome, talented young horse and the connections who took care of him and loved him. One of the most touching tributes I read today was on Facebook from a woman named Karla Davis, who works at We Support Horse Racing. She brings us into the hearts of the people closest to this amazing horse.

Photo by BloodHorse Visuals Director @BH_AEberhardt

Today at 9:47 the sirens went off on track signaling a problem…nobody backside knows anything. ..we all just wait. Every barn, every time. At approximately 10 a.m. his hotwalker, his groom and a barn full of horsemen found out it was their Medina and he wasn’t coming back from a 5 furlong work…not ever.His stall will be stripped immediately. It will stay empty. Feed tub and bucket pulled. Nobody will cry yet….no time. Other horses and work needs to be done. But it will be silent in that barn. Every person and every horse will walk by that empty stall tomorrow and for days to follow and their hearts will be breaking. There will be tons of tears later in private but work will go on. Flowers will come and be placed inside the stall And no other horse will go in it for probably 2 weeks. This is our reality. This hurts. So please respect that before every person gives a nasty opinion of why because nobody in that barn cares why it happened right now…they are hurting because it did.God Bless.

It wasn’t Bob Baffert in that stall at 4 am 356 days a year…holidays, anniversary, birthdays, weekends…they don’t exist for us on the backside. He didn’t groom Medina every day, tack him up, ride him, untack him, bathe him, cool him off, feed him, water him, bandage his legs, love him, give him carrots and hay..a bouncy ball or a teddybear , a goat or a chicken if needed. Travel with Medina. Love him. Today is about those guys!! Because today they lost something huge…not a poster child against our sport. They lost Medina. Bob will go on and face whatever he will face. I grieve for those that were there and still there looking at that empty stall.

Karla Davis

I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about the results of the necropsy, but today let’s remember his athleticism, his talent and his toughness.

2 thoughts on “Medina Spirit Dies after Workout at Santa Anita

  1. So sad for the loss of a brilliant young horse. Especially too for those who loved him and cared for him.

Leave a Reply