Jalen Journey picked up his first career stakes victory Sept. 18, 2021 at Laurel Park following the disqualification of first-place finisher Wondrwherecraigis in the Grade 3 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash. MJC Photo.
Jalen Journey Elevated to Victory in De Francis Dash
It wasn’t the way they drew it up on paper, but Rockingham Ranch and David Bernsen’s Jalen Journey picked up his first career stakes victory on Sept. 18 at Laurel Park following the disqualification of first-place finisher and 4-5 favorite Wondrwherecraigis in the $200,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3).
Jalen Journey ($4.60), second choice in a field of six at 6-5, gave Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Feargal Lynch their second win in the De Francis, after teaming up with Switzerland in 2018.
“He was a nice horse. Switzerland was straightforward. He went to the lead that day and never looked back,” Lynch said. “That was easy. I was just steering. This one was a little tougher.”
Front-running winner of his two previous starts including the Tale of the Cat Aug. 13 at Saratoga, Wondrwherecraigis was outfooted for the early lead by Kalu, himself riding a three-race win streak, who went the opening quarter-mile in :21.98 with Jalen Journey tracking in third. Wondrwherecraigis took over the top spot after a half in :45.11 and straightened for home with Jalen Journey on his heels.
Trying to give jockey Jevian Toledo his fourth win of the day and third in a stake, and a second stakes win for trainer Brittany Russell, Wondrwherecraigis began to drift out under Toledo’s left-handed urging in mid-stretch and was ruled to have impeded Jalen Journey, who finished second by three-quarters of a length. The winning time was 1:09.52 over a fast main track.
“I think I was going by and not just once, but the whole momentum of when I was coming to make my challenge I lost my track. He took my grind,” Lynch said. “Nobody likes to win like that, but he was the best horse in the race and he deserved to get put up. Even in the gallop out, he was two or three [lengths] in front.”
Stewards immediately lit the inquiry sign and Lynch lodged an objection. Following a lengthy review, the order of finish was changed.
“(Wondrwherecraigis) did come out of his path. He was getting hit left-handed,” Asmussen’s New York-based assistant Toby Sheets said. “It was kind of a hazing thing the whole way; no brainer.”