'A marvelous racehorse': Old Friends Farm remembers Medina Spirit

Posted at 8:45 AM, May 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-07 09:29:34-04

CHURCHILL DOWNS, Ky. (LEX18) — It was just a little over a year ago that Medina Spirit crossed the finish line in 1st place here at Churchill Downs.

Then, Medina Spirit was disqualified from the win 296 days later in February of 2022.

After testing positive for a corticosteroid, Betamethasone. Then, shocking news in December, as Medina Spirit died suddenly.

Medina Spirit didn't have a long career or a long life, but that didn't stop him from leaving a lasting impact on so many. Twice in his life, Michael Blowen of Old Friends Farm has bet on the Kentucky Derby. He cashed both tickets. One was Ferdinand... the second? The one he had to eulogize.

"He was a marvelous racehorse," said Blowen.

A marvelous horse... who died too young. The three-year-old suffered a heart attack on the track last December. Doping was not considered a factor, but his 2021 Derby win was stripped away after testing positive for trace amounts of the steroid, Betamethasone. His trainer, Bob Baffert, claims it was a topical ointment given to treat a skin condition. Baffert visits his retired horses here every spring.

"He really appreciates after-care and I just think he hasn't been treated very well. If he committed a crime, I guess he has to pay the penalty, but to me, this is giving somebody the death penalty for stealing a Snickers bar."

Blowen spent a few minutes talking about Medina Spirit's accomplishments, including the second-place finish at the Breeders' Cup last November. It was a short ceremony, but well worth it for Michelle Flanakin who was a fan of the racehorse.

"He was the little horse that couldn't, they said, and he overcame it and it made me feel like I can do this too," said Flanakin, and she did. Summoning up enough spirit from Medina Spirit to get through chemotherapy treatments. "I went into remission the day before he died. so it's all kind of put together."

Medina Spirit didn't live for very long but made a long-lasting impact. It's why Blowen wanted this spot to be his forever home. "The owners agreed and so, if people want to come to visit Medina Spirit's grave, may he'll finally rest in peace."