March 28, 2023

Subconscious comes to the fore in Twilight Derby

Subconscious wins the Twilight Derby at Santa Anita (©Benoit Photo)

LNJ Foxwoods’ Subconscious had been lurking in the background of the sophomore turf division, but Halloween evening opened the door for his emergence. Making his stakes debut in Sunday’s $202,500 Twilight Derby (G2), the nightcap on closing day at Santa Anita, the Richard Mandella trainee overpowered favorite Rock Your World and strode 1 1/4 lengths clear.

Subconscious went off as the 2.90-1 second choice, following back-to-back maiden and entry-level allowance scores since being gelded. Juan Hernandez was aboard for both wins, and the duo retained their perfect partnership here.

Breaking alertly from post 2, Subconscious set up shop in second tracking Rock Your World through splits of :23.76, :47.46, and 1:11.52 on the firm course. The 1.30-1 favorite, who was adding blinkers on his return to turf, didn’t appear to be traveling as easily by the time Subconscious loomed on the far turn. Rock Your World succumbed quickly, and Subconscious ran out a comfortable winner while finishing 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.00.

Cathkin Peak got off to a slow and awkward start, but made eye-catching headway on the rail to grab second by a half-length from Beyond Brilliant. Next came Hudson Ridge, Flashiest, Zoffarelli, Jungle Cry, None Above the Law, Rock Your World, and Wootton Asset who lagged at the rear throughout.

“I thought for a moment (Rock Your World) was never going to stop,” Hernandez told Santa Anita publicity. “That’s why I put a little pressure (on him) around the half-mile to ask him to move, but my horse helped me a lot, he responded really well. When we kicked for home he just exploded and we just passed the horse in front of him and did not let him pass. He wouldn’t get beat by the other horses.

“He’s improving a lot. Every race he’s getting better and better. Even the guys from Mandella’s barn, they told me this horse was doing really good and it looks like he just wants to keep running more every race. Hopefully he keeps it like that.”

A royally-bred son of Tapit, Subconscious has earned $219,820 from his 6-3-1-1 line. The $380,000 Keeneland November weanling was bred in Kentucky by Buscar Stables.

Subconscious is out of the multiple stakes-placed Candy Ride mare Sweet Dreams, who is a half-sister to Grade 2 turfiste Strike Charmer. This is also the family of Impeachment, the third-placer in the 2000 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1), and further back, champion Gold Beauty, dam of great European sprinter Dayjur and ancestress of Hall of Famer Sky Beauty.

That pedigree couldn’t prevent Subconscious from being gelded, though, when he was failing to deliver.

“It’s nice to see him live up to his potential now with that part of it straightened out,” assistant trainer Gary Mandella said. “He’s a serious horse now.

“He’s a colt that was always really athletic to look at. The first time we ever saw him, we had really high hopes for him. He had a little trouble with a knee, had a surgery, and we turned him out. But even if that hadn’t have happened, mentally, he just wasn’t there. Now he is and he’s got it all figured out, and you can see what he’s turned into with these three (wins) in a row.”