04/10/2014 3:11PM

Secret Circle scratched from Count Fleet after being tranquilized

Shigeki Kikkawa
Secret Circle was administered a tranquilizer prior to his Wednesday flight from California to Arkansas.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Trainer Bob Baffert said Secret Circle has been scratched from the Grade 3, $300,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn Park on Thursday after he learned that the horse was given a tranquilizer shortly after boarding his Tex Sutton flight from Southern California to Arkansas. The flight was Wednesday.

Baffert said the horse had to be scratched because it would take at least 48 hours for the tranquilizer to clear his system. He said the horse’s ownership group is presently traveling to Oaklawn. 

“I’m glad that somebody remembered to let us know what happened,” Baffert said. “I’m still absorbing it right now. It’s been a tough pill to swallow, that just happened. It’s really upsetting.”

Baffert said plans for Secret Circle are to be determined.

“He goes back home,” he said.

Baffert said he was told Secret Circle was “just acting up a little.” He said the horse was tranquilized just as the plane was being loaded. He said it did not happen in the air.

“If I would have been notified, I would have taken him off the plane,” said Baffert. 

Baffert, who regularly flies horses out of state for stakes, said it’s the first time he’s had one tranquilized. He said there are no issues with the other horses who flew to town for Oaklawn stakes, including Bayern, who is to run in the Arkansas Derby on Saturday.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman

TimS70 More than 1 year ago
Maybe Baffert should consider stabling horses at Oaklawn Park all season instead of just dropping in for a swoop and grab for the big dollar races.
Darrin More than 1 year ago
In the end,it is on baffert for shipping so late....if he ships 3 or 4 days in advance,the tranq is out of the system,and it runs,but he must ship so late so that the other stuff is still working....
Bob Rose More than 1 year ago
Why would a trainer take on more horses than he can look over? This confirms how dumb owners are to put their stock under the care, or make that lack of care, of a trainer that thinks these type of incidents are even close to acceptable. D U H.
Rosie More than 1 year ago
whats done after the flight? an upper?? a milkshake??? this explains a lot of horses non performances in major stakes... it's just another example of a handful of trainers getting the majority of the good horses there should be limits on just how many horses a trainer is allowed to have..sure anyones #'s would be fantastic if they have more horses than others..just look at pletcher he enters 2 or 3 horses in loads of majors races..if you are starting 33% of the field then yeah your gonna win more often than not..the game needs a co-mish!
Ruben Flores Diaz More than 1 year ago
I think i saw in another article that Tex Sutton always tranquilized horses, so may be they did not know and it was an error on both parts, next time ship earlier and no problem. I don't know who is going to pay the shipping this time.
Barbara Bowen More than 1 year ago
I find it odd that Baffert didn't have an employee fly with the horses? Bayern was on the flight, too. Wonder if he would have been scratched with his Derby hopes riding on the race?
Elizabeth More than 1 year ago
IF I remember correctly, back in the day, once a horse was on a plane all decisions regarding the administration of tranquilizers and even euthanasia were handed over to the transport company, which were supposed to have qualified, experienced handlers making sure everything ran smoothly. Of course, cell phones werent prevalent then, but I doubt that rule has changed much, if at all. If a horse freaks out on a flight, tgey can endanger theflight and everyone on it. Even with cell phones, you wouldnt always have time to hunt down an owner or trainer to get permission to medicate. I remember back in the 70s or 80s an Olympic competitor watched a flight crew destroy herbest horse on the plane because he completely lost it on the way to compete in the Okympics.
ghost2_ More than 1 year ago
In 1964, Michael Plumb's horse Markham had to be put down during a flight to the Olympics because he panicked and grew dangerous. (Plumb rode a teammate's horse in competition and won a team silver medal.) I know I've heard of similar occurrences, and I think one was within the last three years. It's a shame about Secret Circle, but if a horse is upset enough that the flight crew thinks a serious risk is posed, then... what choice do they really have?
jttf More than 1 year ago
too wound up, image that. not good for the other horses around him. bond holder had a similar problem for oneill, earlier this year. stay away from those 6 f works.
Kevin Santry More than 1 year ago
WHO tranquilized the horse?
peter jaworski More than 1 year ago
I'll bet Baffert needed a double tranquilizer shot when he learned of this development!