Berthiaume On Cobalt Fallout
Published: January 12, 2015 8:40 am ET
Last Comment: January 16, 2015 12:42 pm ET | 40 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments
Prominent Québec racehorse owner Richard Berthiaume says the owner of The Meadowlands racetrack can bar his horses if he wants to, but "don't sully my name and reputation or put my integrity in doubt. I've always been honest with everyone."
In an interview Saturday from his winter home in Florida, Berthiaume said he can't figure out why he and the horses he entrusted to trainer Corey Johnson now are being frozen out of the industry because Johnson was suspended for a positive test in Ontario on another horse and unofficial tests conducted at a Hong Kong lab and commissioned by The Meadowlands showed that Berthiaume's Breeders Crown entrants Traceur Hanover and Voelz Hanover had cobalt levels five times higher than the threshold level typically found in a horse's system.
Berthiaume, 68, said he was never told the outcome of the hearing on Johnson's Ontario positive, and the first he heard of the cobalt test was from a U.S.-based journalist.
"I didn't talk to him (Johnson) again after the Breeders Crown (where Traceur Hanover won the two-year-old pacing colt final)," Berthiaume said. "I've only seen him once in my life. He didn't tell me they weren't taking my entries (at U.S. tracks), and he should have. My horses weren't racing and I didn't know why.
"I've been in the game a long time, used a lot of trainers, and in general they don't talk to you, call you or tell you anything. That's one of their faults. You also don't control them."
Berthiaume said he'd never heard cobalt was even an issue in the industry. "I don't know a thing about it."
Although he switched his six U.S.-based horses to trainer Pat Lachance, Berthiaume said tracks still are not accepting the entries. Voelz Hanover was a judges' scratch at Yonkers on Friday.
"She's had a number of different trainers, made over $1.7 million dollars. She wasn't made by Corey Johnson. Neither was Traceur Hanover. He only had them a month (prior to the Crown)," Berthiaume said.
As an owner, he figures he's spent $20 million in Standardbred racing over the last 25 years, spending up to $150,000 per yearling at auction and routinely staking his purchases to all major races.
"I've been committed to the game for a long time, and I'm all for integrity in racing. What I can't figure out is why, all of a sudden, I'm being attacked."
(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Paul Delean)