2021 Kentucky Derby Winner Medina Spirit Dies After Collapsing During Workout

·3 min read
medina spirit
medina spirit

Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The winner of the Kentucky Derby, Medina Spirit, died Monday after collapsing during a workout at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California.

Bob Baffert, who trained the 3-year-old colt, released a statement noting that the horse died from a heart attack.

"My entire barn is devastated by this news," Baffert, 68, said per the Associated Press.

"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."

There are plans for the colt to undergo a complete necropsy that will help determine more about the cause of death.

Santa Anita released a statement as well, according to AP, noting blood, hair, and urine samples were taken from the horse and sent to the California Horse Racing Board.

RELATED: Medina Spirit Wins the 2021 Kentucky Derby

After winning the 2021 Kentucky Derby, which took place in May, Medina Spirit tested positive for a legal medication called betamethasone that is prohibited on the day of the race.

Following Medina Spirit's failed drug test, Baffert was suspended by Churchill Downs and is not allowed to enter horses in the upcoming 2022 and 2023 Kentucky Derbies.

Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action — a nonprofit that supports causes that alleviate animal suffering — released a statement regarding Medina Spirit's untimely death.

"Condolences to the owners and fans of Medina Spirit after his untimely death. This high-performing 3-year-old Thoroughbred will always have an asterisk by his name because of medication abuses that caused extreme controversy following the horse's Derby win and connection to Bob Baffert. Race-day doping has no place in American horse racing, and we have to wonder if doping contributes not only to on-track injuries and death but also to post-track health risks," Irby said in the statement obtained by PEOPLE.

"American horse racing continues to be ridden with scandal after scandal, but we believe the implementation of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act will soon help bring legitimacy back to the sport," the executive director added, referencing the act that was signed into law in Dec. 2020.

Because of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, starting July 1, 2022, a uniform national horseracing anti-doping and medication control program and a racetrack safety program will be implemented at thoroughbred racing tracks across America, according to Congress.gov.

RELATED: Shailene Woodley and Aaron Rodgers Enjoy Kentucky Derby with Miles Teller and Their Friends

Jockey John Velazquez and Medina Spirit won the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby, defeating 19 other horses to secure the win, including the favorite Essential Quality, PEOPLE previously reported.

With Medina Spirit's win, Baffert broke the record for most Derby wins with seven.

"I'm the luckiest guy in the world," Baffert said after the race, adding, "That little horse has heart ... he won today, he doesn't know how much he costs, but he was a little racehorse today."