Frank Brothers

Frank Brothers

John Engelhardt/Pat Lang Photos

Brothers Hanging Up His Saddle

The veteran trainer trained Hansel and Pulpit.

Frank Brothers, who has won more than 280 stakes in his career and is best known for training dual-classic winner Hansel, will be retiring at the end of March.

Brothers, who is a Louisiana native but now makes his home in Louisville, Ky., said he is looking forward to retirement but hopes to stay in the Thoroughbred industry in some capacity, part-time.
“I’ve done it a long time and have had a wonderful career,” Brothers, 62, said March 11. “I’ve trained terrific horses for some very nice people. It’s a tough game and I’ve worked hard. I’ve tried to play on a high level, and that’s getting harder for a little guy like me. It’s time to move on and do something else.”
Brothers said he picked out many of his stakes winners by himself and that gives him hope that his talents will soon be requested as a yearling advisor.
“I’d like to keep my hand in the game in some capacity,” Brothers said. “Most of my best horses were ones that I bought. I’ve been lucky, but I’d like to think I have some talent. I don’t have any concrete plans yet but have had a few phone calls.”
Brothers’ career began in the early 1970s when he was an assistant to eventual Hall of Famer Jack Van Berg at Fair Grounds. He worked with Van Berg for 10 years before going out on his own in 1980. Brothers was based at Fair Grounds and Louisiana Downs, and was the leading trainer at the latter for nine consecutive years. He notched six titles at Fair Grounds.
Brothers eventually spread his operation to Oaklawn and Kentucky, and added training titles at Churchill Downs and Keeneland to his résumé.
In 1991, Brothers campaigned Lazy Lane Farms’ Hansel, who went off as the post time favorite in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) after winning the Jim Beam (gr. II) and Lexington (gr. II) stakes. Hansel finished a disappointing 10th, but came back to win the Preakness (gr. I) and Belmont Stakes (gr. I). He went on to capture champion 3-year-old male honors.
Six years later, Brothers saddled another highly-regarded Derby starter, Pulpit, who won the Fountain of Youth (gr. II) and Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I). Pulpit finished fourth in the race and also suffered a career-ending injury. He has gone on to become a leading stallion at Claiborne Farm, which Brothers has had a long relationship with.
“If you look at the stat sheet, Hansel was the most accomplished horse I had, but Pulpit was the most brilliant,” Brothers said.
Other grade I winners for Brothers include First Samurai , Madcap Escapade, Arch, and Oath.
Brothers moved to Louisville full-time 10 years ago when he married former jockey Donna Barton.