Frank Brothers may be a better trainer than travel agent.
The 44-year old native of New Orleans got his first victory in the Triple Crown series yesterday when Hansel came back from a disappointing 10th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby to win the 116th Preakness at Pimlico.
Getting to the Preakness may have been a tougher task for Hansel than winning it.
Brothers made the horse take a roundabout route from Louisville to Baltimore. He shipped him back to his home base in Chicago after the Derby, and the horse then had to take a 14-hour van ride to Baltimore Tuesday night because a plane wasn't available.
Brothers, who didn't decide until Hansel had a good workout last Tuesday to run him in the Preakness, played down the effects of the van ride.
"I didn't feel like the shipping would be a major factor whether he was first or last today. It didn't bother me. It seemed to bother a lot of other people, but it didn't bother me,: he said.
Who were the people who were bothered?
"I interviewed 100 times this week, and everybody asked me about the van ride," he said as reporters laughed.
If Hansel is to run in the Belmont Stakes in three weeks, he'll have to take another roundabout trip. Brothers plans to fly him back to Chicago Tuesday morning. He'll then play Hamlet again before he decides whether to let the horse go to New York to run in the Belmont.
Since Hansel runs on Lasix, which is banned in New York, Brothers is debating whether the horse will go in the Belmont.
"He's not a bad bleeder at all, and he might be the kind of horse you could get by one time without it," he said.
Is he leaning one way or the other?
"I'd rather not say one way or another. Right now, you always want to go to the Belmont, but you've got to do what's right by your horse and the people in your organization," he said.
Brothers said he wasn't surprised that Hansel could run the way he did in the Preakness.
"I'm not amazed. He's a good horse. He's a proven product. For whatever reasons, he didn't fire in the Derby. He came back and ran like Hansel was supposed to run. He redeemed himself today," he said.
"I knew he was a good horse. I felt like, at his best, he could compete with these horses. We considered a lot of things, but the final decision was it'd be shame if this horse didn't get a chance to win the Preakness, so we kind of went for the gusto."
PTC Brothers never did figure out why Hansel ran so poorly in the Derby.
"I've had a lot of beaten favorites, (and) I think probably 70, 80 percent of the time, maybe 90 percent of the time, you understand why they ran good or bad and probably 10 or 20 percent of the time, you just don't really know. It's the frustrating part about the sport," he said.
The comeback made yesterday's victory that much more satisfying for Brothers.
"It feels pretty good. Two weeks ago in the Kentucky Derby, I was about as low as a trainer can get, and today I was about as high as a trainer can get. But that's the racing business. You've just got to keep pushing and keep doing what you think is right and, hopefully your turn will come," he said.
The Preakness was his turn.