Racing tragedy as controversial Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit dies aged three in training incident
CONTROVERSIAL Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit has died suddenly in a training incident.
The three-year-old, who tested positive for a banned substance after winning America's biggest race earlier this year, was running five furlongs this morning.
The Bob Baffert-trained horse had been working at Santa Anita racecourse in California.
Horse Racing board equine medical director Dr Jeff Blea confirmed the tragic news.
Respected journalist Ray Paulick tweeted: "Kentucky Derby first-place finisher Medina Spirit suffered a sudden death after working five furlongs this morning at Santa Anita, Dr Jess Blea @caCHRB equine medical director has confirmed."
The cause of death has not been confirmed.
But US racing website Thoroughbred Daily News reported it was believed the horse had sadly suffered a heart attack.
Dr Blea told paulickreport.com: "I spoke to the attending veterinarian and when they got to him on the track he had already expired.
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"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 toxocology, forensis and tissue sampling.
"We will take a close look at the heart to try and identify the cause of death."
Medina Spirit was a bona fide superstar on the track and earned owner Amr Zedan, a successful Saudi businessman, more than £2.5million from just nine races.
The highlight was in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs last May.
Medina Spirit won just under £1.4m with victory, where he saw off Mandaloun by half a length.
SUPERSTAR ON THE TRACK
But his crowning achievement was soon shrouded in controversy after it emerged he had failed a post-race drugs test.
The colt's victory remains in jeopardy after he tested positive for betamethasone, a therapeutic medication banned on race day.
Famed trainer Baffert denied any wrongdoing.
Attorneys for Baffert last week released a statement claiming two further tests showed the horse tested positive because an ointment for skin rashes had been used and there had been no injection.
Medina Spirit's post-race failed drugs test was huge news in America and even drew the ire of Donald Trump.
The former US President wrote: "So now even our Kentucky Derby winner, Medina Spirit, is a junky.
"This is emblematic of what is happening to our Country. The whole world is laughing at us as we go to hell on our Borders, our fake Presidential Election, and everywhere else!"
Medina Spirit's incredible journey to the top won the hearts of punters.
RAGS TO RICHES RISE
The horse was sold for just £723 amid breeder Gail Rice's divorce.
The Florida horsewoman was in the process of separating from husband trainer Wayne Rice and reluctantly had to give up the future star.
Medina Spirit went to auction and was sold for the lowly amount, which was the only bid to come in.
The horse was subsequently spotted by a top bloodstock agent, who informed Zedan of the promising sort.
Zedan, not short of a few bob himself, bought the two-year-old for just over £25,000 in July last year.
It was to prove an incredibly shrewd purchase – but one that ultimately ended in tragedy.
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