09/24/2001 11:00PM

Brothers's exit spurs cutback

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Seth Hancock, president of Claiborne Farm, said Monday that his recent decision to de-emphasize his racing stable's activities on the Kentucky circuit was spurred primarily by trainer Frank Brothers's decision to take a private job with Lazy Lane Farms.

Hancock, speaking from Claiborne in Paris, Ky., said "[I] just figured I'd go back to from whence I came" by reducing his racing stable and selling more of the farm's young horses. He said he plans to race several horses in California with Richard Mandella, several in New York with Shug McGaughey, and "maybe keep three or four here" with an unspecified trainer.

Brothers still will take the Claiborne string, which currently numbers around 30, to the Fair Grounds meet, which begins Nov. 22. But the stable will eventually be thinned out. When Brothers, who is based at Churchill Downs, returns in the spring, virtually all of his runners will be for Lazy Lane.

Hancock said that when Brothers became the farm's private trainer in 1996 "things were good here. The purse structure was good, it was close to home. . . . We gave it a good try. It was fine."

But with purses stagnating or decreasing at Churchill and Turfway Park in recent years, Hancock said Brothers's move precipitated his decision to scale down. "When you have a private trainer, you have to maintain some pretty big numbers to keep things going," he said "We're not going to be doing that now."

Brothers and Claiborne had their greatest successes with Pulpit in 1997. They also teamed with such stakes winners as Arch, winner of the 1998 Super Derby, and Trip, whose victory Saturday in the Turfway Breeders' Cup upped her bankroll to more than $670,000. Claiborne was also a part-owner, with Adele Dilschneider, in Mighty, the 2000 Louisiana Derby winner.

Brothers has a notable history with Lazy Lane, which is owned by newspaper magnate Joe Allbritton of Virginia. Brothers trained Hansel to win the 1991 Preakness and Belmont Stakes for Lazy Lane. Brothers officially begins work for Lazy Lane Oct. 1.