Rockin Along

Rockin J Rocks the Challenge.

Quarter Racing Journal

Mike Wakefield and Tammy Kay Johnson with Rockin Disco. PHOTO: Richard Chamberlain

Tammy Kay Johnson and her husband, Mike Wakefield, are the kind of do-it-yourself horsemen who built the sport of racing the fastest horses on earth into the multi-million industry it is today. They race under the name of their Rockin J Running Horses, which this season earned 88 points in the Bank of America Racing Challenge to be the 2017 John Deere Champion Owner.

“We are very blessed,” says Tammy, who for their Bank of America Racing Challenge title will take home a John Deere Gator utility vehicle and a custom buckle from Montana Silversmiths. “We’ve put in a lot of years to try to accomplish a pretty good program. We’ve been buying horses, breeding horses, raising and training them, and just doing the whole deal – cleaning stalls, hauling hay, buckin’ bales, you name it, the whole deal. So we really appreciate this, I mean, all of us really appreciate it.”

Tammy and Mike make their home on their family’s ranch at Gatesville, Texas, where with her father, Claude Johnson, and brother Bill, they raise commercial beef cattle and racing American Quarter Horses. Since registering its first named Quarter Horse in 2001, Rockin J in its own name has bred 14 winners and the earners of more than $650,000 from 22 starters. Those include stakes winners CJs Rocksolid, Jess A Hilbily Bone and Rock A Billy, and the stakes-placed Hesa Reckless Man.

All three stakes winners are geldings by Rock Solid Jess, a 12-year-old son of Mr Jess Perry. The Grade 1-winning stallion is owned by Manning Interest/JMC Ranches of Odessa, Texas, and stood at Rockin J Running Horses from 2011 through 2015.

CJs Rocksolid is a sorrel gelding foaled in 2010 out of Sultry Miss by The Signature. Both brown, Jess A Hilbily Bone and Rock A Billy are full brothers out of the Game Patriot mare Imaginiff, the former foaled in 2011and the latter in 2013.

A career earner of $272,735, the 7-year-old CJs Rocksolid qualified to this Saturday’s $105,000-guaranteed AQHA Distance Challenge Championship (G1) with a 2 1/2-length score May 14 Remington Distance Challenge (G2) at Remington Park in Oklahoma City. CJs Rocksolid comes into the Distance Challenge Championship off a second-place finish in allowance company on September 23 at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas.

But CJs Rocksolid will not be Rockin J’s only starter in the AQHA Distance Challenge Championship. On June 3, Jess A Hilbilly Bone won the Remington Distance Championship (G2) by 1 1/ 4 lengths, with CJs Rocksolid going wide around the turn and finishing fifth.

Jess A Hilbily Bone has earned $137,546 in his career, and the AQHA Distance Challenge will be his first start since his neck score in the July 29 Bobby Dan Crenshaw Memorial Stakes at Ruidoso Downs.

In addition to owning horses, Mike and Tammy also train them. Mike has conditioned the winners of 147 races and the earners of more than $1.86 million from 1,851 starts, including winning the 2007 Dash For Cash Futurity (G1) with Rock Solid Jess. Tammy has saddled the winners of 128 races and the earners of more than $1.56 million from 1,139 starts.

They haven’t done it all with their own homebreds. Mike sent out Rockin Disco to win the John Deere Ruidoso Juvenile Challenge (G3) in 2012, and three years later, Tammy won the in the Remington Championship Challenge (G2) with the same horse. A sorrel gelding by you-know-who, the stakes-winning earner of $287,309 is out of the Check Him Out mare Check This Disco, and was acquired by Rockin J as a long yearling from breeder VWP Jr. Inc. of Holdenville, Oklahoma.

Rockin Disco will run in Saturday’s $330,000-guaranteed Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1).

Tammy and Mike that same evening also will send out Born To B Bad in the $120,000-est. Altoona Derby. An earner of $130,980, Born To B Bad is a bay gelding by Freighttrain B that races for breeders Melissa Slayton and Cody Bowling of Tolar, Texas.

And that’s not all. Rock About It (Rock Solid Jess-Not Sable Shes Rose by Coronas Blackdiamond) will run in the $180,000-guaranteed Adequan Derby Challenge Championship (G3); and Feature Me Gorgeous (Giorgino-Rebas Feature by Feature Mr Jess) will go in the $130,000-guaranteed John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship (G2). Rockin J acquired both as yearlings from their breeders, Rock About It from Sarah Donaldson Rioux of Deming, New Mexico, and Feature Me Gorgeous from Jack Manning of Odessa, Texas.

“We are blessed,” says Mike, agreeing with his wife. “We love this. It’s a real feeling of accomplishment to win any race with any horse, and I don’t mean to say anything at all about that. But it’s really special to win with a horse that you bred, raised, trained and own yourself. It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe, but to us it is really an accomplishment.”

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