|The horse Medina Spirit’s (USA) lifespan was just three years. He died after a training session in Santa Anita Park last December 6.|
In his last year of such a short life the colt went form conquering the most important horse race in America, the Kentucky Derby, to getting disqualified for testing positive for a banned substance, to then redeem himself with a win at the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes, and the finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, in what would be his last race.
Sudden death can happen without foul play in horses even when they are healthy (Paulick Report), but obviously such a high profile death will cast even more doubt on the conditions of his death. According to the Los Angeles Times, the necropsy will be conducted by the prestigious Maddy Lab at UC Davis and eventually the results will be re-checked by other labs. It will probably take a few months to have the result.
And then, sometimes necropsies cannot conclude the causes of death. The banned substance for which Medina Spirit was disqualified from this year’s Kentucky Derby was the anti-inflammatory steroid betamethasone, which trainer Bob Baffert’s attorney claimed was contained in an anti-fungal treatment for the horse (DRF) and that it did not provide any performance advantage.
This is a tragedy for everyone involved, and surely Baffert and the owner Zedan Racing Stables are mourning the loss. So is the horse racing community.
There might or might not be something to learn from this death. Regardless, Medina Spirit was a great competitor. It is more of a tragedy that part of his racing legacy will be judged in the public perception in light of a necropsy.