Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella sends 4/1 second-choice Subconscious out in today’s Grade 1 Hollywood Derby. But even he knows where most of the attention is during Del Mar’s Bing Crosby Meet closing weekend.

Subconscious-Hollywood Derby
Subconscious won three consecutive races after being gelded, including this October score at Santa Anita’s Twilight Stakes. He is the second favorite for Saturday’s Grade 1 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar. (Image: Benoit Photo)

And that’s Brown. Chad Brown. Trainer of turf terrors and eastern feaster of this weekend’s Turf Festival. Among the seven horses he shipped west from New York and Florida is the 5/2 favorite, Public Sector. He heads a deep, 14-horse field into this 1 1/8-mile turf test for 3-year-olds.

Mandella is very conscious about what awaits Subconscious in the first of two weekend Grade 1s at Del Mar. The Hollywood Derby headlines Saturday’s card. The Matriarch for fillies and mares puts a bow on Del Mar’s Crosby season Sunday.

“You’re always worried about (Brown’s horses), because they’re very good,” Mandella told Del Mar’s media department. “But there’s nothing you can do about it that’s legal.”

Gallows humor from Hall of Famer Mandella

Mandella’s snark about Brown’s invaders is well-placed. Public Sector is one of eight Brown horses at Del Mar this weekend. He’s one of two in the Hollywood Derby, joining stablemate Sifting Sands (15/1). The pair will try giving Brown his third Hollywood Derby in eight tries, along with his second in as many seasons. Last year, Brown sent Domestic Spending to what became the first of four consecutive Grade 1 scores.

Public Sector gets Irad Ortiz Jr. in the irons. Sifting Sands gets his brother, Jose. That pair, along with John Velazquez, migrated west for the Turf Festival.

Did we say this is a popular weekend?

Expect Public Sector to have minimal value

Public Sector figures to be a popular choice for horseplayers. He’s won his last three races and four of his last five, dating to a Belmont Park June 4 allowance. He’s 5-for-9 in his career, with three seconds. The only time the son of Kingman missed the board came in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, when he finished a poor 12th.

He comes into Del Mar off a gritty score in the Grade 2 Hill Prince, where he outdueled Never Surprised down the stretch for a neck victory. That came with a career-best 104 Equibase Speed Figure.

As for Subconscious, he was an underachieving colt who hadn’t finished better than second in three maiden special weights. Then, Mandella made the “ultimate equipment change” – he gelded the Tapit progeny early in the summer.

Subconscious is the West Coast Hollywood Derby hope

The result? Subconscious hasn’t lost since. He comes in with his own three-race winning streak, the last being a 1 ¼-length victory in the Grade 2 Twilight Derby at Santa Anita. The addition by subtraction brought racing conscience to Subconscious he lacked.

“Before (gelding), he was acting a little bit jerk-y, kind of like me in high school,” Mandella said. “Since then, he has settled down and become a real racehorse. He had shown a lot of speed, but lately, he has settled and finished nicely.”

Grade 1 Hollywood Derby/Del Mar

Morning Line (Jockey/Trainer)

  1. Dicey Mo Chara, 30/1 (Tyler Baze/Leonard Powell)
  2. Beyond Brilliant, 12/1 (Kent Desormeaux/John Shirreffs)
  3. Cathkin Peak, 6/1 (Flavien Prat/Phil D’Amato)
  4. Team Merchants, 15/1 (Mario Gutierrez/Doug O’Neill)
  5. Hudson Ridge, 12/1 (Mike Smith/Bob Baffert)
  6. Public Sector, 5/2 (Irad Ortiz Jr./Chad Brown)
  7. Flashiest, 15/1 (Abel Cedillo/Leonard Powell)
  8. Sifting Sands, 15/1 (Jose Ortiz/Chad Brown)
  9. It Can Be Done, 20/1 (Joe Bravo/Greg Sacco)
  10. Zoffarelli, 20/1 (Drayden Van Dyke/Jeff Mullins)
  11. Camp Hope, 5/1 (Tiago Pereira/Kenny McPeek)
  12. Subconscious, 4/1 (Juan Hernandez/Richard Mandella)
  13. In Effect, 20/1 (John Velazquez/Jack Sisterson)
  14. Santin, 10/1 (Umberto Rispoli/Brian Walsh)

Subconscious leads the local Hollywood Derby contingent against Brown’s incursion. That includes his two closest pursuers in the Twilight Derby: Cathkin Peak (6/1) and Beyond Brilliant (12/1). The deep Hollywood Derby field also includes stakes winners Sifting Sands, Hudson Ridge (12/1), Team Merchants (15/1), Flashiest (15/1) and It Can Be Done (20/1).

Meanwhile, Del Mar’s 20-cent Pick 6 Jackpot pools enters Saturday at $510,986. That puts it in danger of hitting Sunday’s mandatory payout day unclaimed.