04/10/2014 2:11PM

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