His strong second-half form earned It’s the Journey another shot at stakes competition, and R. Larry Johnson’s Maryland homebred didn’t disappoint in earning a fourth consecutive victory and first in stakes company in the $75,000 Challedon at Laurel Park on Saturday, Sept. 9.
The second choice at 8-5 in a field of six older sprinters, It’s the Journey completed the distance in 1:22.86 over a fast main track. Maryland-bred Rockinn On Bye was second, his 17th runner-up finish from 48 career starts.
It’s the Journey is the latest of a long line of stakes winners, which include Strike the Moon and Street Magician, bred by Johnson descending from the remarkable Ran’s Chick, a Maryland-bred filly by the stallion The Big Boss he paid $2,400 for as a 2-year-old in 1978 at Timonium. Although she never raced, Ran’s Chick produced 13 foals for Johnson – all were starters – 11 of them winners. The first of her three stakes performers was Turn to T. J., a daughter of Turn to Reason who recorded wins the New Castle and Mill Race Handicaps. Turn to T. J. is It’s the Journey’s third dam.
Turn to T. J. produced just two foals before her untimely death in 1992 – both were stakes winners. Her son Star Trace (by Star de Naskra), a graded stakes-placed earner of $201,764, was eventually retired by Johnson to stud in the Virginia. The mare’s first foal, T. J.’s Turn (by Meadowlake), joined the broodmare band after winning five races, including the Toes Knows Stakes at Laurel, and produced five winners from eight foals, including stakes winner T. J.’s Posse. Her winning daughter Traceable (by Forest Wildcat) is the dam of It’s the Journey.
The final of four foals (all winners) for Traceable, It’s the Journey was third in the 2015 Maryland Juvenile Futurity in his only other stakes attempt. He now has six wins, three seconds and two thirds from 15 career starts, for $216,393 in earnings.
“Mike’s done a great job with him. He was good as a 2-year-old and we thought he was a [distance] horse and we were really wrong about that,” Johnson said. “He did this kind of easily today, and he beat a nice horse.”
Read more about the running of the Challedon here