Cody Wish’s Story Leaves a Mark with Breeders’ Cup Horsemen

In a statement online today, November 6, 2023, the family posted that Cody Dorman passed away on the trip back to Kentucky following his namesake’s dramatic victory in the BC Dirt Mile.

From prior to the win by  Cody’s Wish in the Dirt Mile:

Those who ply their trade on backstretches from Belmont Park to Churchill Downs to Santa Anita Park have all heard the story.

There doesn’t seem to be anyone in horse racing who doesn’t know about the tug-at-the-heart relationship between Godolphin’s Cody’s Wish and Cody Dorman.

“If there is a better story than this one, I don’t know it. Do you?” Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse said.

The 5-year-old horse, the 9-5 morning line favorite in the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), met up with his best pal, 17-year-old Cody Doman late Thursday afternoon.

“We are all pulling for him,” Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said about the two Codys. “I am running against him (with Preakness Stakes winner National Treasure), but I think this is just great.”

Cody Dorman, along with his dad Kelly, mom Leslie and 10-year-old sister Kylie made the trip from Kentucky to root for Cody’s Wish.

They had a personal, half-hour meet-and-greet with the horse and Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.

Cody Dorman, who is able to communicate via tablet, gobbles up all things Cody’s Wish. He can watch videos of the horse training or walking or racing for hours on end. His bedroom at home is filled with all things Cody.

It’s a love affair that has been going on since young Cody, who was born with Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome, a rare genetic disease, met Cody’s Wish when he was a foal in 2018.

“This story touches everyone,” said Nora McCormack, an exercise rider for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. “If you don’t feel something when you see or hear about this story… I’ll be rooting for Cody, but I’ll also be rooting for us.”

Pletcher will be represented by Charge It in the Dirt Mile.

McCormack knows the special connection a horse can have with a human. She has been working for Pletcher for five years and has been the exercise rider for the champion filly, Nest.

“When Nest came in as a baby, I rode her every day,” she said. “She was so sweet on the track. We were best friends. We get very attached to these horses. You trust them and they trust you.”

The Cody Dorman-Cody’s Wish love story gained steam when the horse won the Dirt Mile last year. It has made the youngster a rock star as he and his four-legged friend’s friendship has been chronicled by media outlets throughout the land.

It has proven to many what those who work closely with these Thoroughbreds have always known.

“These horses can bring so much joy,” Baffert said. “Being around horses can distract you from things that are negative in your life. They are so noble and beautiful. To see the (Dorman) parents and the kids watching this horse … it brings so much joy to them. It’s a feel-good story and, right now, we need feel-good stories in racing.”

Casse always has been one who wants to share his horses with the public. He trained the great Tepin, a two-time Eclipse Award-winning mare who was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2022.

People loved Tepin and Tepin loved people.

“A lot of horses are loving,” Casse said.

He can relate to the bond between Cody’s Wish and Cody Dorman. And, like everyone else, he wants to see a happy ending in the Dirt Mile, which is the 16th and final race of Cody’s Wish career.

“Oh, I’ll be rooting for him,” Casse said. “I want it all to go good.”

Handicapping Tip of the Day #66 – 1 Turn Races vs. 2 Turn Races

by Rich Nilsen for

Some racehorses excel around two turns and a route of ground, whereas other runners are best suited to sprints or one-turn contests.  Sometimes this preference is simply due to a stamina issue.  Some horses don’t ‘corner’ well and can lose precious ground or momentum around the turns.  Other horses have issues with lead changes and that can affect their ability to perform at their best around two turns.

In this year’s G1 Whitney, one of the premier races of the Saratoga meeting, the heavy favorite was superstar Cody’s Wish. The five-year-old horse from the Bill Mott barn had won 9 of 13 races lifetime, including his last six in a row.  The 2022 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile champ had won both starts this year versus Grade 1 company by a combined eight lengths.

One of the victims in his start was one of his main rivals in the Whitney Stakes, White Abarrio.  At a cursory glance and without taking a deep dive, many in the public just assumed that Cody’s Wish would dominate that rival just like he did last time.  However, the circumstances were vastly different in their next meet-up.

The Whitney is a two-turn 1 1/8 miles races, a test of stamina in this era of racehorses.  With a powerful finish last out in the G1 Met Mile, and showing a plethora of ‘routes’ in his past performances, Cody’s Wish figured to handle the added ground without any problem.  Or would he?

In his 13 career races, Cody’s Wish had only competed around two turns on one occasion, and that came in the G3 Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs early last year.  The result was a neck loss to a horse that would hypothetically be 50-1 in the Whitney.  That was all I needed to see to flag Cody’s Wish as an overbet and vulnerable favorite.  The icing on the cake was that Cody’s Wish figured to be in the back of the pack with a modest pace up front, meaning his rivals would have first jump on him.

So, who could beat him would be the next question.  Historically, this was a pretty weak Whitney Stakes which added to the Cody’s Wish appeal and favoritism.  One horse leaped off the page to me and it was runner that I was interested in last time out in the Met Mile, Rick Dutrow’s White Abarrio.

Unlike the favorite, White Abarrio was a proven winner going two turns.  In fact, he was a 2022 Florida Derby winner at nine furlongs for former trainer Saffie Joseph.  Dutrow had recently taken over the care of this runner, and the Met Mile represented his first start with limited training of the Grade 1 winner.  In my view, Dutrow had not had time to fully bring out the best in White Abarrio.  That would not be the care heading into the Whitney as he had an additional two months with the four-year-old colt.

It was no secret that Dutrow, who had returned from his controversial 10-year ban, was one of racing’s greatest trainers at improving new acquisitions.  So, there was every reason to believe that White Abarrio would move forward of the first start going one turn at Belmont Park.  Below is my writeup on my top selection.

Sometimes in racing, it can be difficult for the horseplayer to overlook the hype of a superstar like Cody’s Wish.  There is no doubt he is one of the best and most exciting milers that we have seen in recent years, but that did not mean he had to win the two-turn Whitney Stakes.

Off at 45 cents on the dollar, Cody’s Wish flattened to be third, 10 lengths behind the winner White Abarrio.  Rick Dutrow returned to the winner’s circle in a Grade 1 with White Abarrio returning $22.40 to win!

When the handicapper can find a couple of solid reasons to go against a huge favorite, it opens the door to potentially a nice score.  In this case, the difference between one turn and two turns played a major role.


Did you miss these Handicapping Tips of the Day?

Horse Racing Tip of the Day – the Fewer this the better…

Horse Racing Tip of the Day – Evaluating Layoff Horses

Horse Racing Tip of the Day – Red Flags on this Big Favorite

Earning rebates to improve your ROI