Frank Brothers, who trained privately for Joe Allbritton's Lazy Lane Farm in the late 1980s and early '90s, will soon again be only handling horses for that operation.
Brothers has been the trainer for the Hancock family's Claiborne Farm near Paris, Ky., since Jan. 1, 1996, though he continued to have a few horses for Lazy Lane.
"There may have been a short period when he didn't have any horses for us, but he usually had two or three for us. That number will increase," Lazy Lane manager Frank Shipp said Wednesday from his office at the Virginia farm. Lazy Lane also owns a farm in Kentucky.
In 1991, Brothers trained Lazy Lane's Hansel to win the Preakness (gr. I) and Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and an Eclipse Award as North America's top 3-year-old male.
Brothers currently has four horses for Lazy Lane, while Graham Motion and Al Stall Jr. also have horses for the farm. Lazy Lane purchased four yearlings at the Keeneland September yearling sale last week.
"It will be a gradual process," Brothers said. "Mr. Allbritton offered me a wonderful job. I talked to Seth (Hancock of Claiborne Farm) and we felt, under the circumstances, this was the best thing. I hope to keep most of the Claiborne horses this fall and through the winter in New Orleans (at Fair Grounds)," Brothers added.
He has 30 Claiborne-owned horses in his barn. Brothers, a 54-year-old native of New Orleans, has saddled well over 100 stakes winners. He is married to former jockey Donna Barton. The couple resides in Louisville, Ky.
Brothers said he intends to keep the same racing circuit, Fair Grounds in the winter, Kentucky in the fall and spring, and shipping to several tracks in the summer.
For Claiborne in 1997, Brothers saddled Pulpit to win the Fountain of Youth (gr. II) and Blue Grass Stakes (gr. II) and finish fourth in that year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I). Pulpit now stands at Claiborne.
Claiborne had decided to sell more and race less in the future, Seth Hancock said Thursday morning. "If you're going to have a private trainer, you need numbers; now we don't have a private trainer, so we don't need that many horses," Hancock said. Claiborne has 23 yearlings and Hancock indicated 10-12 will be sold next year in 2-year-old sales. Those in training will mostly be placed with Richard Mandella in California, and a few will be sent to Shug McGaughey in New York.
Hancock said the reasons for Claiborne deciding to scale back on racing, entirely in Kentucky, include the current purse structure in the state and Kentucky's medication policies. "The medication thing has dragged on and on, and the purse structure is not as strong as when we made that commitment (to Kentucky) five-six years ago," he told the Louisville Courier-Journal
Wednesday. "Everybody just tells me this is the most wide-open medication state there is. We're trying to breed horses here that have good bone and are sound and big and strong and athletic, and I'd like to think they wouldn't need that medication. It's frustrating."
Brothers grew up attending the races at Fair Grounds, and approached Jack Van Berg for a job in 1970. He took out his trainer's license in 1972, and stayed with Van Berg for 10 years.
In 1981, Brothers began work as the private trainer for Manchester Farm owner Mike Rutherford. He later opened a public stable before being retained by Lazy Lane.
Brothers won consecutive training titles at Louisiana Downs from 1980 to 1988. In 2000, Brothers won 38 races from 198 starts (19.2%) and had earnings of $2,394,491. This year, through Sept. 17, he has won 20 races from 118 starters (17%). For 1977 to 2001, according to The Jockey Club Information Systems, Brothers saddled 9,109 starters that won 2,139 races (23%) and had earnings of $40,801,774.
He sent out Claiborne's Trip to win the Chicago Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) on June 16. He saddled numerous stakes winners for Claiborne, including last year's Louisiana Derby (gr. II) winner Mighty. Other Claiborne stakes winners Brothers trained include Conserve, Watch, Trip, Arch, Buff, Oath, and Move.